Thursday, January 22, 2009

Keep Austin Beautiful Event

posted by emily

We are The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors and we say go Austin Green Art!

A few months ago, the Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors, along with several other plastic bag crafters, volunteered at the spectacular Austin Green Art booth for the Keep Austin Beautiful Festival. The Austin Green Art booth is made out of plastic bags woven through cyclone fence panels


Check out this booth! We are all trying to fit into the slice of shade.

Veggie burger for volunteers YaY!

The crowd checking out the many plastic bag creations

Zarina! Future angsty warrior we hope!

Under the sweltering sun, we proudly showed off our plastic bag creations, provided information about our organization and Austin Green Art.  We talked with the festival goers about plastic bag pollution and performed endless craft demos for hundreds of curious folks. We quelled our grumbling tummies with piles of veggie burgers generously provided to all volunteers for free.

Here are some pictures from when we nearly succumbed to the unforgiving Texas heat!

Sadie succumbing to the heat while donning her trademark fish hat

Katie on the left, me on the right- melting and the reusable bag give away behind us

Other highlights of this festival were the reusable bag give away by our local grocer and the  Ariel Dance Theater contemporary bag dance complete with incredible bag dress costumes- it was totes a fun time!- emily


Here's a new feature- Emily's poetry corner!

A Poem

 (or heat stroke you decide)

The radiance in my heart flared up like an explosion of plastic bags 


Magically showered upon my welcoming and grateful hands 


The joy was just too much to contain 

My eyes sparkled in sudden realization

 of the wonder 

of the world 

of bags


Their crinkly goodness.

Photos on Flickr

We post photos from our events and workshop on FLICKR.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Their Angsty Mission

Displaying their typical cheekiness, sense of fun and zeal, This small group of high school students, friends since childhood, christened themselves The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors and committed themselves to using their considerable superpowers for good. They also committed to coerce their friends, by any means possible, to join them.

The concerns of The Angsty Teenage Eco Warriors are humanitarian and environmental issues worldwide. Their twofold mission is to identify and evaluate critical environmental and humanitarian situations and to take action with engaging, effective volunteerism. Secondly, they seek to invoke power of the internet by blogging about their Angsty Teen activism. The ATEW blog is a chronicle of their ideas, actions and outcomes that serves as an interactive template to guide and inspire other small groups of like-minded teens to take action, with the belief that their combined efforts will make a difference in the world. Their blog will chronicle all ATEW projects as well as the efforts of other teens that have been inspired by their example, creating a forum for the exchange and innovation of teen activism ideas. Additionally the blog contains informative how-to’s and comedic craft tutorial videos.

It is their ambition to be continually inspired by their world to make a difference, and to inspire the world through their own “Angsty” brand of humanitarian and ecological activism while encouraging others to do the same.

see our photo set on flickr !

see our intro video post!

The Angsty Teenage Eco Warrior are high school students in Austin, TX at The Liberal Arts and Science Academy, an urban public magnet school that educates sociallyresponsible leaders, problem solvers, and thinkers through a nationally recognized, rigorous, innovative, interdisciplinary curriculum. 

How to make a plastic bag tote


posted by angsty mom


One paper bag

Plastic bags

Plastic hardware cloth ½ mesh (available at home improvement stores)

Metal scissors or tin snips

Crochet hook small

Craft wire (any wire that is pliable)

Magnetic snap optional (you will need pliers to install the snap)

this messenger bag (above right) was made by Roz!

We are going to demonstrate how to make a messenger bag. First, make a simple pattern or template for your purse out of a paper bag.Decide what size you would like, then cut a rectangle that when folded in thirds, will make the front, back and bottom of the messenger bag. Then cut one for the handle and sides. Keep all your angles 90 degrees. Play around with it until it has the dimensions that you like.

Now lay your pattern over the plastic mesh and cut the mesh to match your pattern. To cut the mesh you will need strong metal scissors (plastic handle scissors might break) or tin snips. Remember to trim off all the pointy nubs on your mesh pieces or else carrying this purse could be a painful experience! You'll see below that we changed our minds on the dimensions of the purse- It's called artistic license!

here the pieces have been cut

Here the big rectangle has been folded to make the body and the flap of the messenger bag.

We temporarily put it together with a little wire just to see if we liked the shape. If we put all the pieces together now for real it would be very hard to weave the plastic bags through the mesh. We found this out the hard way!

Prepare your plastic bags! Smooth them out on a flat surface, fold the bag on the vertical into thirds. Cut off the bottom of the bag close to the seam and then snip off the top of the plastic bag if it has handles. Next cut across the folded bags about every three inches. This creates loops that you will connect to each other with a slip- knot. The loops that you slip- knot together are your “plastic yarn” that you will weave with.

Flatten the bag then fold it in thirds vertically, cut off the seam at the bottom and cut the handles off. Cut what's left into 2-3"wide strips

Now you have created loops, next step connect them to each other with a slip knot.

To start weaving, take a plastic bag loop and slip- knot it to the top left of your larger mesh piece. Begin your weaving! Keep adding on loops with a slip knot. If you are intimidated remember there is no need to get fancy, a simple over and under weave looks great. The weaving part takes some time so be patient and enjoy the process.

here's the starting slip knot, next is the first row of weaving with a simple over and under weave

Keep adding loops as you go. Invent your own stitch if you are feeling creative! When you get to the end cut your plastic yarn and leave a few inches remaining. You will weave the remaining end back into the weave with the help of the small crochet hook. Next, work on your plastic mesh handle the same way.

Here's what it looks like as you add rows. Use a crochet hook to tuck in the ends of the plastic bags.

Now that your two pieces are woven, you need to connect them. You will “sew” them together with a simple over-hand stitch using the craft wire. Sew them together tightly so that your bag doesn’t fall apart.

We used florist wire from the craft store to sew the bag parts together.

Next you will bind the edges with a strip of plastic bag. To do this cut one of your bag loops open so that it becomes a single strand. Thread the plastic strand through the upholstery needle. Now you are ready to bind the edges with plastic bags strips.

We used a blunt upholstery needle to bind the edges

Why am I telling you to bind this again? It’s worth the extra effort- it will add to the structural strength of your bag and give it a great finished look. For this final binding use the overhand stitch again. When you are done, tie a knot and tuck the end into the binding so that it doesn’t show.

Tying the knot at the end of the binding using the blunt upholstery needle

Sometimes we add a magnetic snap for a closure. You will need pliers to install the magnetic snap. You could also invent your own closure. Admire your bag! Guess what you are almost done!

Sydne is happy about her new bag! Circe's bag on the top right.

Here’s the last part, and it is REALLY important- make up a bunch of information cards with some fast facts about plastic bag pollution on them, put them in your bag and pass them out to people that comment on your one of a kind plastic bag creation.

Find out the facts! Here are some really good websites that contain a lot of information about plastic bag pollution.

Here’s what we put on our card:

We use over one million bags per minute world wide.

Each year an estimated 4 billion of those plastic bags end up as litter. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times.

Plastic bags choked drainage systems in India during monsoon rains and lead to loss of human life and outbreaks of water borne disease.

Mountains of plastic bags in Africa's slums are a major health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be a thousand miles wide, that is covered in floating plastic trash!

We hope that these instructions are enough to get you started. You can start with a small purse and work you way up to a larger tote that you can bring to the supermarket! Show us your plastic bag bags! Send us pictures of plastic bag totes that you have created and we’ll post them here on our blog.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Angsty teenage eco warriors video


This video made by our friend Lowell, (thanks Lowell!!!) features Sadie, Circe, Roz, Katie and Emily. Special thanks to an Angsty Mom for providing the "laugh track"!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Flash from trash!

posted by Circe

Over the summer of 2007 we received a challenge from artist Virginia Fleck (aka my mommy) to reuse the bags that she had saved from her 2005 art installation, Laguna Gyre. Well, first let me give you some background on Laguna Gyre. It was made from about six thousand plastic bags, all defective and bound for the dumpster. My mom obtained them from a distributor. The purpose of the Laguna Gyre installation was to call attention to plastic pollution in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Here’s a picture of what Laguna Gyre Art installation looked like:

Here is an animation that show the currents in the North Pacific Sub Tropical Gyre 

Here is a link about what's been going on there

Sadie and I helped my mom install it and then uninstall it a month later. I guess that's why they call it temporary public art!  Installation consisted of several days of filling plastic bags with air and then nailing them into the ground. The day we started the temperature soared above 100 degrees. We toiled in the hot Texas sun. I’m pretty sure that child labor laws were violated, but I digress. This is us after a hard day’s work deinstalling, looking rather wilted.

Needless to say, Sadie and I never wanted to see these bags again, BUT, apparently time heals all wounds, emotional and physical, because two summers later we were happily reunited with the bags- pretty much all six thousand of them!

Anyway, Sadie, Roz, Emily, Sydne and I met to discuss the bag using challenge. What can we do with 6000 plastic bags? We thought of a million things to make with plastic bags, and somehow we managed to narrow it down to full body armor, hats, or tote bags. We decided that the answer was totally totes. If we made totes, once they were done we could bring them to the grocery store fill them with our groceries (Ben and Jerry's chocolate fudge brownie ice cream for me!) and eliminate the need for the single use throw- away plastic bag.That's right fill our tummies AND save the environment! It was what they call a” win-win situation”. Here are some picture from our bag making adventure.- circe

here we are with our finished bags!

This is Sydne being very happy with her work in progress

Roz's bag is almost finished, just the shoulder strap is left! The cat is helping too of course...

Sadie's bag is almost done too!

I'm not sure why I'm inside the bag, but it must have been for some important reason...


We did a little  "angsty " research and found a lot of surprising information about plastic bags. Here are some really good websites to check out.

Here's what surprised us:

  • We use over one million bags per minute world wide.
  • Each year an estimated 4 billion of those plastic bags end up as litter. Tied end to end that’s enough to circle the earth 63 times.
  • Plastic bags choked drainage systems in India during monsoon rains and lead to loss of human life and outbreaks of water borne disease.
  • Mountains of plastic bags in Africa's slums are a major health hazard. They collect water and become breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
  • There is an area in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, estimated to be a thousand miles wide, that is covered in floating plastic trash!

See our HOW TO MAKE A PLASTIC BAG TOTE tutorial to get directions for making your own fabulous bag creation