Even if you bring your own fabric bag when picking up your weekly groceries, plastic shopping bags are difficult to avoid and are a huge environmental problem. They could be recycled to avoid using natural resources, but the process is not as environmentally friendly as it sounds — it involves a lot of energy, emissions, heat, and chemicals, and the end product is always of poorer quality than the original material. With this in mind, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Michelle Baggerman discovered a way to transform plastic shopping bags into a “Precious Waste” textile that extends the bags lifecycle while remaining recyclable (as it’s not a mixed material). She unveiled her innovative textile this week at the Milan Furniture Fair – read on for a closer look!

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During her experimental design process, Baggerman realized that the further she strayed from the plastic bag aesthetic, the more interesting her results were. In order to avoid the trashy, cheap connotations of plastic bags she used a drop spindle (a tool that people have used since prehistoric times) and bought a spinning wheel from an old lady who was moving to an elderly home (she was overjoyed to see somebody using the dusty artifact again).

Using these low-tech tools, the designer could produce a very fine, strong yarn to make a fantastic plastic textile that can be used to create just about anything.

Precious Waste is now showing at Milan Design Week, as part of the This Way exhibition featuring recently graduated Design Academy Eindhoven students. It is all taking place at Studio Zeta, where a multidisciplinary conceptual platform of work, events and a design-debate café coexist in one single space. Don´t miss out if you are out and about!

+ Michelle Baggerman

+ Design Academy Eindhoven

+ Milan Furniture Fair

Photos © Michelle Baggerman