The single use plastic shopping bag has become a plague on the planet, a bane and a drain on the environment that supports all life on earth. Carelessly lost or tossed away, they end up polluting lands and waters across the world and killing vast quantities of marine life and sea birds. Short of banning these pernicious plastic parcels altogether (as some bold communities are now doing), re-purposing them into long-lasting aesthetic and practical products is the next best choice. It’s a challenge similar to that of turning a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

In Sanford, NC there is an industrious group of volunteer weavers who are meeting that challenge. Sitting at their looms in the Common Thread Weaving Studio, they artistically transform one and done plastic shopping bags along with traditional fabrics into beautiful and useful items. Proceeds from the sale of the items are then donated to local charities. In the weaving of plastic and fabric they are also building community. It’s a win-win for all involved.

When the church eco-justice team learned of the good works being done by the wondrous weavers of Common Thread, we knew we wanted to pitch in and give our plastic shopping bags a proper home. And with our curiosity piqued by a visit from Common Thread members to our Earth Care Sunday celebration in April, we knew we wanted to return the visit and watch them perform their magic. An enthusiastic group of ten spent a couple of delightful hours touring the studio on the morning of May 8.

Back at the church, we continue to collect single use plastic bags for re-purposing as a part of our Earth Care Congregation actions.

The following images share a bit of the sights we beheld during the enjoyable time spent with our new Common Thread friends.