The first material RAD is reusing are thin plastic bags. The kind newspapers are delivered in, or someone may put vegetables in at the grocery store.
RAD reuses these by cutting them into strips, chaining those together, and spinning them into 'plarn' (plastic yarn).
We use a foot powered spinning wheel, the same as our ancestors traditionally use for spinning wool into yarn.
We then weave the yarn, using a traditional rigid heddle loom for the pillows, and a custom built armature for the hanging pots.
How do we get the bags? Russell goes to the plastic 'reuse' bins at the grocery store and collects them by hand! Also, we are encouraging Bend, Oregon residents to collect these bags and donate them directly to RAD. Want to send RAD your bags? See our 'Support RAD' page
Why is this better than traditional recycling?
These bags can't be recycled at your local recycling plant. If you put them in the grocery store bins, they are shipped along with the other mixed plastics to the Northeast coast, then melted and pressed into boards for furniture. This is admirable, but the melting process is suboptimal and uses a lot of energy and releases toxic gases.
Our process does not use any heat or melting and doesn't release any fumes. It's just cutting, spinning, and weaving. It is low energy and can be done locally to reduce shipping burdens. We do not dye the bags; all colors are just the colors of the plastic bags. It's highly efficient and creates a beautiful and versatile product.