Cities around the world are banning plastic bags, and for good reason: They’re used for all of 20 minutes before polluting our earth for 1,000 stubborn years. But often, consumers won’t reuse those alternative reusable bags anyway.
So another solution might be to turn plastic bags into more cherished objects–to make us value their footprint as consumers. So Streetplastic, by German designer Stefanie Rittler, upcycles old plastic bags into a new ones.
Streetplastic is a essentially a hand-cranked factory designed for sidewalk production. A fresh, white plastic bag enters the assembly line. You shove your old bag into a hopper on top, and it feeds into a shredder. The shreds hit the white bag, and a heating element melts it all together. At the end, the customer gets a personalized plastic bag–something like a Baggu on a budget.
Obviously it’s a bit more compelling as an artistic concept than an actual, scalable solution. For one, it takes a plastic bag to recycle a plastic bag! And melting some types of plastic can release toxic vapor that we probably don’t want floating in a haze around every Walmart. Even still, Streetplastic is onto a clever idea at its core, creating an intentionally paradoxical keepsake from a valueless object.