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Taking plastic from trash to useful fash
Plastic spills from bins and shelves throughout the basement of Paul Hempe's home in Eden Prairie piles of it, sorted by texture and size. Purple mesh bags that once held onions. Opaque, sticky shrink wrap. These are the ingredients for plastic fabric or Plabric, a material created by the zerOwBag company that turns trash into fashionable bags.
Hempe came up with the idea of recycling plastic bags when he was between jobs a year ago. He and friend Chad Campbell decided to go into business with the goal of creating products that would help raise environmental awareness and create a new home for plastic that is not currently recycled.
"We're excited about the opportunity to help people understand the problem of plastics in the environment," Campbell said.
"We did a little research and found that produce departments in grocery stores have a lot of plastic waste that really isn't being recycled yet," Hempe said. He has enough plastic waste collected from one grocery store to fill his basement storage room and half of his garage. Every material used is recycled, except for the thread used to sew together the bags.
One of their most notable products is the Green Baby diaper bag ($140), which comes with a cheeky changing mat covered in caution tape and marked with a circle indicating where to place the baby. ZerOw has a variety of style lines, including the Random Stripe, Metallic, Confetti and Desert Camo collections. The lines include handbags, large or small cosmetic bags and messenger bags. No two are alike.
At the studio, each piece of plastic trash is cleaned, stacked and sorted by color for organization. Layers of different types of plastic are pinned and sewn together, then the prepared Plabric is run through a multi needle quilting machine. It cheap michael kors handbags sale is then ready to be made into various styles of bags.
Any leftover material is used to create one of a kind art pieces. "I'll let people decided if it's fine [art] or not," Hempe said with a laugh. "But if customers like our mission, it makes it more special for them."
Karrah Anderson is a University of Minnesota journalism student on assignment for the Star Tribune.About more: