Recycle Craft: Make a Dog Leash from Braided Plastic Bags

Plastic products really aren’t recyclable; they can’t be melted down and used to make new bottles and containers . Instead, reclaimed plastics are usually molded in other products, such as picnic benches, composters, insulation board, seedling flats, and other many items which unfortunately can not be recycled again. (source: www.ecologycenter.org).

Since plastics are made from a non renewable natural resource ~ gas ~ the most energy conserving use of any plastic is for consumers to reuse the container in its present shape. Most refillable plastic containers can be reused on a average of 25 times; therefore, it makes perfect sense to find other uses for these containers around the house.

Materials needed

To make this recycled plastic dog leash, we used about 20 plastic bags that we had gathered up over the year. These bags weren’t just grocery store bags, but non recycleable plastic bags that once held newspapers or had been used as shipping or hotel laundry bags.

Additional materials include a scissors, iron, and 2 sheets of used aluminum foil.

Instructions

The project begins at the ironing board. While the iron is preheating, cut the plastic bags apart, lengthwise. For extra thick bags, such as shipping bags, you may have to cut the bags in 6 inch widths.

Once the iron is hot, you can begin fusing the ends of the plastic bags together. Remember watching those old jail break movies where the criminals knotted sheets together to escape from a 10 story building? To make our rope, we’ll be knotting plastic bags in the same way. Where ever the knots meet, we’ll fuse the plastic together by gently melting it with the iron.

Since plastic can ruin an iron, the plastic should be sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum foil. Gently press the hot iron over the knot for a count of 2 seconds. Remove the iron, and peel the aluminum foil away from the fused bags. Continue fusing the bags from end to end until you have approximately an 8 foot section of plastic. Repeat to make two more 8 foot sections.

To create a loop for the leash, it’s important that all 3 lengths of knotted plastic both begin and end with a loop handle.

Braiding the Leash

To braid the leash, simply grab up all three sections of rope and slip the handle loops over the door knob. Take the right section of rope and place it between the middle and left pieces. Then, take the left section of rope and place it between what is now the middle and the right piece.

Repeat these steps (see picture #3) until you get to the end of the plastic.

Bring the braided rope back to the ironing board, and gentle fuse the beginning and the end of your rope to prevent it from unraveling. Your rope is now finished! (see picture #4)

A leash made of plastic bags is surprisingly strong and doesn’t look half bad. Best of all, it is absolutely free and uses materials that couldn’t have been recycled otherwise. Don’t limit yourself to making just leashes! Plastic rope has many uses around both the house and garden.

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