A new wrap for an old bag

Story and photo by Davida Siwisa James
APPLE VALLEY REVIEW

Plastic shopping bags get a bad rap.

They last decades in landfills, are banned in some communities and there is a charge for them in others.

So it’s no wonder that Apple Valley resident Jennifer Vance is proud of her grandmother’s creative recycling of those maligned plastic bags. Her grandma, Lucette Vance, spends copious hours separating the bags by color, cutting them into strips and crocheting the plastic bags into handbags, small purses and, yes, reusable grocery totes.

“It takes a long time,” said Lucette Vance on the phone from her Oceanside home. “I don’t sell them. It would be hard to put a price on them.”

The effort keeps hundreds of bags from landfills. It is both a creative way to recycle and something to kill the time while she sits in front of the TV. It can take up to 100 bags to make one handbag.

At first glance, the crocheted bags look like rope or yarn. Press your finger on them, and you still can’t tell they are plastic because of the tight stitches. It is only when you run your hand across the bag that you realize it is plastic.

Lucette Vance and her husband were longtime residents of Apple Valley before moving to Oceanside 10 years ago. She got the idea on a visit to a cousin in Oklahoma who showed her handbags that she had made from the plastic bags.

“We all save bags to send her now,” said granddaughter Jennifer Vance. “She doesn’t sell them. It’s a hobby.”