Library page Phyllis Libbe (left) and library circulation clerk Carmin Cerullo show raw material for plarn and a plarn shoulder bag beside the library’s Earth Day display. 



When I asked my co-workers about their hobbies, I got a very detailed reply from Phyllis Libbe, one of our library pages.  I thought her hobby tied in very well with Earth Day and environmental consciousness and I’ve devoted a separate blog entry to her hobby. 


Dear Eugene,


This quarter, I have become aware of the term “sustainability” through Cal State University East Bay’s Environmental Studies online class. Synonymous with green, it appears to be the new buzzword these days in all the media. I’m seeing and hearing it everywhere: on television in the news, commercials and sitcoms, radio talk shows, newspaper headlines, bulletin boards, product packaging, etc., even at the library. My family just got back from an Orlando, Florida, vacation and it’s used there, too.  It’s national. Just like the Kyoto Protocol, it’s global!


My Environmental Studies text defines sustainability in terms of ecosystems—how they “have existed for millennia because they are sustainable.” ¹ One important reason, I have learned, is that ecosystems are efficient in recycling. One of the reasons why I like plarn is just that. What better way for man to help keep his environment sustainable than to plarn. By plarning, one not only becomes a good steward to the environment, but also gains an outlet for her artistic and creative tendencies.


What is plarn? Plarn is a verb and a noun because you plarn with plarn. Plarn, a word formed from the “pl” in plastic and the “arn” in yarn [pl + arn = “plarn”], is made from plastic bags. Everybody has them. Now there’s a practical application for them. They come from shopping and other activities resulting in an accumulation of them. One may become compulsive and search plastic bags out for color and/or lack of them. But, see, in doing so, you become a steward by keeping them out of the environment because you want to make beautiful things like handbags, carry-alls, hats, plant hangers, mats, rugs. Anything that can be knitted, crocheted, or macraméd, can be plarned. But first you have to make the plarn.


There are many sites on the internet that give instruction on how to make plarn and patterns for plarn projects. I like the ones on You-Tube. I have included a favorite one below.² Simply Google “plarn” or “plastic bag yarn” or “plastic bag projects” on Google or search some other search engine and find many plarny ideas (it’s also an adjective).


Well, there you have it, Eugene, the reasons why I like plarn. It is a fun and enjoyable hobby and art activity; it can be a conversation piece; it helps to keep the environment sustainable by recycling plastic; and best of all, outside the cost of knitting needles, a crochet hook, or other embellishments, like the sun’s energy, it’s free.


¹ Richard T. Wright, Environmental Science (tenth edition), Pearson Prentice Hall (2008): 77.