The Impacts of Plastics

Written by FTA Member Amelia Musselman, the designer behind Elladora 

Apart from the function of fashion, the collection I have put together function to educate the world and support a movement of social and environmental responsibility. That is one of the reasons why I began working with plastics as a material. Well that and the guilt I felt every time I would throw one away or just stash them in the plastic bag cavern under my sink. I thought there has to be something I can do with these. I began to experiment to create a new material, and with so many colours and patterns the options are endless.

We often don’t think of the tiny plastic bag as a nuisance and although plastic bags are convenient most of us are unaware of the repercussions that are occurring and will take place in the future. Experts estimate that up to 1 trillion bags are consumed and discarded annually word wide. That is more than a million per minute.

Plastic of all kinds omit toxic fumes like carbon monoxide, dioxin and hydrogen cyanide. These dangerous gases cause respiratory disease, nervous system disorders and immune depression in humans. Chemicals contained in plastic like benzene and vinyl chloride are confirmed carcinogens which can cause neurological problems, cancer, birth defects, hormonal changes, gastric ulcer, thyroid problems and cardiovascular disease.

Plastic bags do not just have a toxic affect they have a physical affect. Hundreds of thousands of marine life die because they have ingested plastic bags. Plastic bags are among the 12 items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups, according to the nonprofit Center for Marine Conservation. Nearly 90% of the debris in our oceans is plastic.

Picture courtesy of Sam from Bombastic plastix. Taken in Bali, he says this is a very clear example of why he began using plastic bags as a material.

Plastic bags are not biodegradable. They simply break down into smaller and smaller toxic particles that contaminate our soil and water, thereby entering the food chain. The issue is not just the physical pollution seen allover the world nor the space taken up in our overflowing landfills but what gets leached into our systems over the hundreds if not thousands of years they will be around.

All these depressing factors aside, I have found many other people using plastic bags to create amazing accessories and bags.


 “I have been doing this for a while now and it all started when I realized I had too many plastic bags around me that I didn’t want to throw away. Making something out of nothing is an amazing feeling.” Arny


“I started working with them about three years ago. I found hundreds of colored plastic bags in the cupboard under the sink ( I stored them there to reuse them for garbage).

I mixed knitting and then fusing techniques. The earrings are the result of that experiment.” Aviva Sawicki

One More Use

“I began incorporating the methods of upcycling plastic bags into my work as my environmentalism deepened. This led me to strive to repurpose as many non-biodegradable items as I am able, to keep as much plastic pollution out of landfills and out of our waterways as possible.” Beth Petricoin

Frank Cluck

“I started working with plastic bags when I was on a mostly failed quest at making my own grocery bags. I tried making a bag for my mother out of dog food bags (she is an animal lover!). It was a hit. When my husband commented it was a good bag and I should make more, I KNEW I was on to something. I made a bunch for us, and then decided to list a few on Etsy. My shop has grown from there, with the help of lots of friends and family collecting bags for me!” Jenny

The Factory Girl Shop

“I have always been concerned with the amount of plastic waste we have piling up on our planet and I wanted to find a sustainable way to reuse all the plastic bags I have stashed around my house! I managed to merge that desire with my own aesthetic and come up with something fun, fashionable, and cute” Jessica Murphy

 Bombastic Plastix

“We have developed a supply chain that fits the challenges of the plastic problem and works financially for all those involved from the poor farmer who needs additional income to our customers that need an affordable solution for their green production needs and for us to turn a profit in the process. We have removed hundreds of thousands if not millions of plastic bags from the environment in Bali.”

“The plastic bag problem in Indo/Bali has reached a completely disastrous level. The environment is choking on plastic bags. We just couldn’t stand it anymore particularly me being a surfer. We don’t have to tell you, by now everybody in the world knows that discarded plastic shopping bags are a huge problem. It is an even worse problem in the developing world. When you add a remote location the problem becomes even worse because of the cost associated with moving the material to an industrial recycling center. What we have done at Bombastic Plastix™ is create a solution to the problem of how to collect and recycle plastic bags that makes economic sense for a remote island like Bali. We take the solution to the problem and not the problem to the solution.” If you are in USA  you can purchase their works at Bisa Bisa in San Fran and Nancybgoods in Nashville


 Are plastic bags a necessity in this fast pace throwaway world or can we make small changes to eliminate their use?

We live in a culture that promotes and sustains needless waste, taught to consume without a real understanding of the effects of our excess. 

These recycled plastic bag works are an attempt at challenging this hegemony.

“If I can affect the way we think about waste, I can create change.”

Amelia Musselman