Green Steps Reuse was our 2nd project for 2016-2017.

Plarn project is a Green Steps project about conservation by reusing items instead of throwing them away. This Green Steps project has 3 components:

  • Students learn something about reusing items
  • Do something about conservation by reusing and repurposing items
  • Teach others about what they have learned about reusing

We planned this project for the STEAM Club–where students meet every other week to engage in learning activities and socialization opportunities. This club is designed for families who are looking for activities with limited time commitments. This learning club is for all ages.

Learn: Conserve and Reuse

This particular lesson has two components: an environmental awareness project and a community service project.

  • Environmental awareness: Plastic grocery bags pose a problem for the environment: the time they take to decompose and the danger to animals. Plastic bags also cannot go in the local recycle bin. They are the number #1 no-no item for the local recycling center because they get tangled in the sorting machines.
  • Community Service: Operation Bedroll is a local effort to provide an insulated bedroll made from repurposed plastic grocery bags. The bedroll will be distributed among approximately 150 chronically homeless people in Columbia. Volunteers are needed to participate in various stages of the project.

Students learned about the environmental issues. We played a sorting game to practice identifying recyclable and non-recyclable items. The students tested out the completed bedroll. They could see the potential comfort and usefulness this new item would be for a homeless person.

Do: Plarn Project

The students also learned how to turn a plastic bags into a useable yarn, called PLARN (plastic-yarn). Plarn could be used for other items, if they wanted to extend their learning on their own. But, for our purposes–we would donate our plarn to a local coordinator for Operation Bedroll.

Note: Leftover plastic bag scraps can be turned in (secured in another bag) at local grocery store recycle bin especially for plastic bags. There is a recycling process that can repurpose plastic bags, too.

Operation Bedroll volunteers are needed to donate plastic bags, cut the bags, string the bags together into yarn, or crochet the plarn into bedrolls. Any contribution is helpful since it takes 500-600 plastic bags to make just one bedroll. Our students were able to cut the bags and string the bags together into yarn.

Teach: What have you learned?

The North East co-op location has a teen club that’s interested in doing community service projects. So, we arranged for volunteers from the STEAM club to go teach the teen club how to make plarn. The students were able to explain why the plastic bags are an environmental issue and what we can do, including repurposing and reusing it for something else. They were able to explain what the plarn could be used for this Operation Bedroll project.

Teen Club has continued making plarn as an ongoing community service project once a month. Their plarn will be donated to Operation Bedroll.

See more about Green Steps Schools:

 See more about REACH’s STEAM Club and NE Co-op: