SEBASTIAN INLET STATE PARK, Fla. — Two volunteers at a state park on the Treasure Coast have taken a lifelong hobby and stitched together a business to keep plastics out of their slice of paradise.
At Sebastian Inlet State Park, when they are not greeting visitors or answering questions, Nannette Wall and Ethel Ford can be found in their rocking chairs inside the Fishing Museum, busy at work.
They create everything from beach bags and baskets, to change purses and back scrubbers, all using plarn. Plarn is plastic shopping bags cut up into strips.
Wall and Ford are the Recycling Grannies. Dozens of their crafts hang in the park gift shop.
25 years ago, Wall says a friend needed something to hold wet shoes. She heard about this craft that combined sewing and crocheting with plastic and brought the idea to Sebastian Inlet State Park where she spends 12 hours a week as a volunteer.
Both women see craft items online, and wonder how they can make it from plarn.
"It’s fun coming up with the idea. Fun seeing it all come together and to look nice," said Wall.
"I enjoy doing it. For me it’s like a pastime," said Ford.
The Recycling Grannies have also been known to weave in some old fishing line into their creations.
Small items take 10 to 15 bags, bigger ones use dozens, and a sleeping mat for the homeless took hundreds. So it’s not a stretch to say these ladies have kept thousands of bags out of landfills and more importantly, the natural environment.
"You need to help the environment, even if it’s just a small way, but to keep all this out," said Ford.
Half of the profits go right back to the park, and the Recycling Grannies are always looking for donations to turn those bags into bottle holders and beyond.