On Air Now

Listen Now


Sct Thunderstorms
H 89° L 75°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 89° L 75°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 89° L 75°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 89° L 75°

The latest newscast

00:00 | 00:00


The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00


The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

'Recycling Grannies' get new use from discarded plastic bags

'Recycling Grannies' get new use from discarded plastic bags

'Recycling Grannies' get new use from discarded plastic bags
Photo Credit: Patrick Dove/TCPalm.com via AP
In this Aug. 20, 2019 photo, Nannette Wall, left, 67, and Ethel Ford, 70, sit in rocking chairs in Sebastian, Fla., weaving strands of plastic bags, known as "plarn", to be used as material for handbags, coasters and sleeping mats. Known as the "Recycling Grannies", Wall and Ford are volunteers at the Sebastian Inlet State Park and both agree the plastic they use will not negatively impact the park that they love. (Patrick Dove/TCPalm.com via AP)

'Recycling Grannies' get new use from discarded plastic bags

It's volunteer work that could have an impact for centuries.

And it just involves some crocheting skills and a ton of plastic bags.

Nannette Wall, 67, and Ethel Ford, 70, sat in the middle of the museum at the Sebastian Inlet State Park, pulling at thin strands of plastic last month. The material is recycled plastic bags and is known as "plarn."

What it will become could be a purse, a coaster, or even a sleeping mat.

It's plastic that's being reused for a more long-term use. For Ford and Wall, volunteers at the inlet, it's plastic that won't negatively impact the nature area they love, the inlet, which straddles the Indian River and Brevard counties' border on State Road A1A.

"I absolutely love this park," said Wall, who lives in Vero Beach. "Within a month of coming here the first time, I became a volunteer. I'm here 12 hours a week, across two days."

Wall and Ford are known as the "Recycling Grannies" among the staff and volunteers at the inlet. The plastic bags they use are donated, with some being picked up from the grounds of the park. Similarly, used fishing line collected from the inlet is also incorporated into their craft.

A few dozen plastic bags can be woven into a small purse or a large grocery bag. But give the ladies 800 bags, and they can craft a sleeping mat, which they donate to the homeless.

"Just think about all those bags going into the environment," said Ford, who lives in Indian River County west of Vero Beach. "These bags would wind up at the landfill, get into fishes' tummies, and the birds would get tangled in them. Not any more."

Instead, the work being done by the grandmothers is for sale at the museum.

Their offerings go for as little as a $3 drink coaster to shopping bags and purses of various sizes, ranging from $10 to $50.

Half the sales of the plarn products will go to the Friends of the Sebastian Inlet State Park, of which Wall and Ford are members. The group runs the inlet gift shops and help to support the park in various ways, according to its web site.

Communities and businesses across the nation, as well as the Treasure and Space coasts, are stretching their minds around ideas of lessening the proliferation of single-use plastics, such as shopping bags, straws and utensils.

In Stuart, the City Commission is debating a ban on plastic straws, though it may carve out exemptions for some businesses. The ban, which the commission could vote on this fall after a series of workshops, would be the first on the Treasure Coast.

And curbside recyclers such as Waste Management are reiterating to customers that plastic bags are not a material they take in recycle bins. That means single-use plastic bags have few other destinations except local landfills.

"These bags would be at the landfill for a thousand years," Wall said. "Imagine how long they'll last if they're crocheted? They'll last forever."

The products Wall and Ford make tie in to the inlet directly. Besides being an environmentally friendly product that helps reduce pollution at the natural resource, the plarn bags are great for the beach, the ladies said.

"It's a strong, durable product, and you don't have to worry about it getting wet or sandy," Wall said. "You can just rinse it off in the water and it will dry."

Wall discovered plarn 25 years ago and made a few bags back then. Last year she saw an article about using plarn to make mats for the homeless.

"I said 'Oh my goodness, I can do that,' " Wall said.

That inspired her to pick up the craft again and she shared it with Ford, who was also interested.

Among the miles of beach stretching along the Space and Treasure coasts, the inlet boasts beaches on each side of the county line, access from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian River Lagoon, a campground for recreational vehicles and tent campers, and a boat ramp.

"They have trails, the beach, the Intracoastal Waterway," said Wall, an Albany, New York, native. "You can swim and relax and enjoy the wildlife. I bring a good book and sit on the beach, or I collect sea shells."

Ford said she has enjoyed fishing and walking the beach at the inlet the past 10 years. Recent back ailments have prevented her from continuing those activities.

But her back doesn't prevent her from volunteering at the gift shop or crocheting plarn.

"This is my outlet," she said. "It keeps my mind active."

And the staff throughout the inlet are on board with the grandmothers' plan to keep the inlet safe, said Jennifer Roberts, inlet park manager.

Inlet staff bring any plastic bags they find to the "Recycling Grannies" for them to use for their work.

The public can also take plastic bags and drop them off at the front gates of the inlet.

"When we educate the public, they see what we're doing with the plastic bags and the fishing line, you see the light bulb go on in their head," Wall said. "You can tell that we've impacted someone. Maybe they will throw things away now in the appropriate place instead of poisoning our environment."


Information from: The Stuart (Fla.) News, http://www.tcpalm.com

Read More

The Latest Headlines You Need To Know

  • A road construction worker was killed and three others were hurt after being hit by a suspected drunken driver near Concord Mills Mall in North Carolina early Saturday, police said. >> Read more trending news  Danyel Middleton was charged with felony death by a motor vehicle, and police said she could face more charges. She spent her 22nd birthday in jail and will face a judge Monday. Socorro Martinez, 50, was confirmed dead at the scene. The three other victims were taken to a nearby hospital. Two were being treated for serious injuries, and the third was treated and released from the hospital. The crash happened around 1:45 a.m. on Concord Mills Boulevard near Entry A to Concord Mills Mall. Police said the four crewmen were working on road improvements when Middleton plowed into them. According to authorities, the crew had appropriate signs and lighting indicating the work zone. 'They're just trying to make a living, and they can't come to work and be safe,' a Concord community member told WSOC's DaShawn Brown.  Officials said the four who were struck were workers with Cruz Brothers Concrete. The company, based near Burlington, North Carolina, is said to have over 75 years of experience and family-owned.  For community members, news of the crash was unsettling enough, but even more so close to home.  'You know, sometimes if I want to go out and drive at night, it makes me a lot more nervous knowing something like this could've happened,' Nate Seedorf said. 'Not only is the driver going to live with that for the rest of her life, but the family of the victims are also going to be dealing with this forever,' another community member told WSOC-TV. Middleton is being held at the Cabarrus County Jail with bail set at $1 million.
  • The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) charged two men with what they call “ the state’s largest seizure of turtles in recent history.” Officers say a tip back in February 2018 started the investigation into what they call a turtle trafficking ring that involved thousands of animals and thousands of dollars.  On October 18 wildlife officers arrested Michael Boesenberg, 39, and Michael Clemons, 23, both of Fort Myers, Fl. and charged them with poaching and selling the turtles on the black market.  Most went to large-scale reptile dealers and illegal distributors, who would then ship them overseas on the black market with a majority of the animals ending up in Asia,  according to a press release. The turtles would fetch between $300 and $10,000 dollars each. Officers estimate one month of turtles would net approximately $60,000. The FWC documented more than 4,000 turtles illegally taken and sold over a 6-month period in the release,  including Florida box turtles, Eastern box turtles, striped mud turtles, Florida mud turtles, chicken turtles, Florida softshell turtles, Gulf Coast spiny softshell turtles, spotted turtles and diamondback terrapins. When investigators arrived with a search warrant they say they found the poachers in possession of hundreds of turtles, along with the skull and shell of a protected Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle.  Biologists evaluated all of the animals for health and species identification and were able to return more than 600 of them back into the wild.
  • Friday was a tough night for residents in Polk County where a EF-2 tornado touched down causing damage to homes and churches and left thousands without power.  But it was especially hard for the Pelham family who told Bay News 9 they had only moments to get into a closet before the tornado struck.  After the storm passed, they discovered their pitbull, Tuffy, and his dog house were gone.  The family told reporters they immediately began searching the area and discovered the dog house 100 yards away. It was severely damaged.  Still, there were no signs of their big dog.  Miraculously, 18-hours after the search began a neighbor found the pooch hiding in a ditch about a half-mile away.  He was scared but otherwise seemed to be OK.  Tuffy’s reunion was shared on twitter by reporter Trevor Pettiford Sunday.  One person commented, “They don’t call him Tuffy for nothin!” App users click here to see the video.   
  • One of Texas' largest cities is reeling after a tornado swept through north Dallas on Sunday night, officials said. >> Read more trending news  According to KDFW-TV, the twister struck about 9 p.m. CDT near Dallas Love Field Airport, then headed east, damaging homes and businesses while initially knocking out power to more than 100,000 people in the region. As of early Monday, no deaths or serious injuries had been reported, the city of Dallas said in a news release; however, emergency officials told The Associated Press that they received reports of people cut by glass shards. Crews also were trying to determine whether any victims were trapped inside a collapsed structure after seven people safely fled the building, the AP reported.  WFAA-TV reported that the storm destroyed Dallas Stars hockey player Tyler Seguin's mansion. Seguin appeared to confirm the news on Twitter but assured fans that he was OK. 'Thanks to everyone reaching out about the news tonight, I am safe,' he tweeted. 'Luckily this is my house for sale and I have moved into a new one. I just left the area and it is an extremely sad sight to see. Prayers to everyone affected by the tornado.' The storm caused 'significant' damage to six homes in nearby Sachse, as well, the AP reported. Four of those houses are now considered 'uninhabitable,' according to the news agency. Read more here. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • Residents in Gotha have been dealing with flooding for weeks. They said it’s because road projects nearby are dumping water into Lake Nally and that water is running straight into their homes. With the outer bands of Nestor impacting the area, some residents had to find a new place to stay because their homes were being flooded from all the rain. One family had to find a new place to stay and another may need to soon due to flooding. The Fernandez family was forced to move out of their home.  “There are snakes in there, and ... we haven’t been able to move out anything,” Mery Fernandez said. Neighbors said the county refuses to take responsibility for the road projects that dump water into the lakes. The water then floods homes in the area. “The county's going to own up to that and they’re gonna get my house back,” Fernandez said. Resident Paul Dehart is worried he won’t be able to get into his house one day. “Doesn’t have to rise much more and I won’t be able to get in and out, which will effectively take away my house,” Dehart said. People in the neighborhood said county officials told them that because the lakes are private, the responsibility falls on the homeowners.  “In the meantime, they still say there’s no temporary solution for this, which is hard to believe,” Dehart said. Residents said county officials told them authorities are working on conducting a study of the entire basin to find a long-term fix. For now, the neighbors are doing what they can to help each other out.

Washington Insider

  • Accused by Democrats of blatant corruption by planning to host the 2020 G7 Summit at his Doral resort and golf course in Miami, President Donald Trump on Saturday night reversed course and dropped those plans, retreating just two days after his acting White House Chief of Staff announced the plans. 'I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,' the President wrote on Twitter, defending his choice of venue - which he owns. 'I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!' the President wrote. “To translate, “Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility” means people who stood up for the Constitution and the rule of law against what some of the most flagrant corruption in American history,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA). Critics in Congress and outside ethics groups had denounced the President's decision, arguing that it was a clear cut example of corruption. Democrats had already planned a vote this coming week in the House on a measure to condemn the President for his choice, as some suggested it was such a  clear cut violation of ethics rules - and federal law - that it would automatically become an article of impeachment. “After demanding answers from the White House about the President’s decision to hold the G-7 at his Doral resort, I’m glad he’s reversed course,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI). “But it never should have come to this.” “It's just one mind-blowing, embarrassing fiasco after another,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). 'President Trump’s decision to award the G-7 Conference to his own property was outrageous, corrupt and a constitutional violation,' said Noah Bookbinder, the head of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.  'It was stunningly corrupt even for a stunningly corrupt administration,' Bookbinder added. The announcement on Twitter by the President came barely 48 hours after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney was pelted with questions in a rare briefing for reporters, as he shrugged off repeated questions about why the G7 selection wasn't straight and simple corruption. 'Get over it,' Mulvaney said at one point. That news conference also included Mulvaney openly acknowledging that the Trump White House had pressured the Ukraine government to investigate items related to the 2016 elections, in exchange for the release of military aid to Ukraine. Several hours after that briefing, Mulvaney issued a denial of any quid pro quo, as he accused reporters of twisting his words - even though his statements were very clear. “I don’t think he’s enjoying impeachment at all,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) said of the President. “He can also repay American taxpayers the millions collected at Mar-a-Lago, the Trump Hotel, and other Trump properties from DOD, Secret Service, the White House and other fed agencies in violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause,” tweeted Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD).