Kelly Ordemann is a designer and maker based in Edinburgh where she creates upcycled accessories from single-use plastic bags.
By fusing together several layers of single-use plastic carrier bags using heat and pressure, a new ‘fabric’ is created that is significantly more durable, lightweight and waterproof. This new fabric is used to create functional everyday accessories that will last for many years, keeping the original materials out of the landfills and oceans.
Each hand-crafted item is unique, using only the original markings on the bags.
Kelly has designed a series of zip pouches, tote bags, and protective laptop/tablet sleeves - all of which are handmade in Scotland.
We take single use plastic carrier bags which are no longer wanted. We clean them using eco-friently soap and water, then we trim off the handles and seams (which are saved for future use).
Several layers of plastic bag are then fused together using heat and pressure. The layers fuse to create a strong, lightweight, waterproof fabric.
We then use the new fabric to create unique upcycled accessories. We utilise only the existing patterns on the bags. The material is sewn on a sewing machine and finished by hand.
Each made by Kelly O product is named after animals that are affected by the pollution of plastic both on land and in our oceans. This helps draw awareness to the harm these materials cause and the need for change.
So what's the difference between upcyling and recycling?
Recycling is the action or process of converting waste into reusable material. For plastic bags this consists of melting them down and turning them into small plastic pellets that can then be melted down and made into something else. This requires a lot of heat and energy.
Upcycling is the reuse of an object or material in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original. In upcycling, the original object or material is not completely destroyed, it might be heavily manipulated, but it's original form is still recognisable. This requires a lot less energy than recycling, and is therefore a more sustainable solution.
There are a lot of compostable plastics on the market today - so do they work? are they helping us reduce waste?
UCL's Plastic Waste Innovation Hub is undertaking research into the effectiveness of biodegradable plastics. Find out more and get involved at the Big Compost Experiment
While we are working hard to reduce the amount of waste we produce now, what about all the waste that is already in the environment?
As well as picking up rubbish we come across everyday, we are members of Surfers Against Sewage to whom we donate monthly.
We also donate 5% of all sales to Plastic Oceans UK who are helping to educate people and stop plastic reaching the oceans within a generation.