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Cary, NC – Even if you bring your own “green bags” to the grocer, chances are you still collect many plastic bags every week when you shop. Maybe you use them on your dog walks, or you bring them back to the store to recycle. Donna Walker sees an opportunity to make up-cycled tote bags out of plastic yarn.
Donna Maynard Walker is a long-time Cary resident and past manager of the Cary Downtown Farmer’s Market. That’s where CaryCitizen met up with her and first saw her “Go Green Tote” bags. We were intrigued: how were they made? Where did the idea come from?
Ms Walker told us the idea started many years ago, when the manager of the farmer’s market asked her to participate with her beeswax candle business, “Mind Your Own Beeswax”. About 6-7 years ago she started researching ideas that could be an alternative to the candles, which cannot be sold outdoors at temps above 76 degrees.
She had always crocheted and somehow she stumbled on the idea of turning plastic bags into yarn. Then she researched patterns for things to crochet, and eventually adapted and created her own patterns. Currently, she sells a multi-purpose tote bag, a yoga mat tote, wine bottle tote, a growler tote and koozies. Prices range from $15 for the koozies to $22 for the yoga and multi-purpose totes.
Each tote bag requires about 40-50 actual plastic bags. Donna has great resources now that will donate large quantities of bags to her, which she and her husband sort by color. Brown is most common, then clear, white, blue etc. She also accepts plastic tablecloths that are used as accent colors.
After the bags are color sorted, she cuts off the bottoms and the handles. Next she slices them cross-wise into loops. The loops are tied together to create long strings of plastic “yarn”. Her husband winds the yarn into balls, similar to balls of yarn. The balls are then stored by color in bins until Donna is ready to use them. She uses a large crochet hook, and starts the crochet process, just like you would if you were crocheting a regular sweater with regular yarn. The tablecloths make great accent colors, so that the bags are not simply white or brown, but may have stripes of bright blue, or accents of yellow. Each bag is completely unique.
It take about 4 hours of crocheting to create each item. Donna says her hands are never idle. While watching a movie, or sitting in the passenger seat of the car on a long drive, she is always crocheting her wares.
“I try to stay ahead of the need,” Donna said. Her products are sold Saturdays at her booth in the Cary Downtown Farmer’s Market, and can also be found at Fortnight Brewery, Cary Pottery on Dry Ave, Lucky Pie Gallery on West Chatham Street and the Angus Barn. She also attends many craft fairs throughout the year.
One mans trash is another man’s treasure. We like this creative thinking to use up thousands of plastic bags and make them into something beautiful. If you have time on a Saturday, go visit Donna’s booth at the Cary Downtown Farmer’s Market. Tell her CaryCitizen sent you.