Plarn, pallets, and... actually there's no third thing

(A sneak peek of the latest issue of Mouths!)

Hey pals,

It’s been a minute! My sisters and I have been hard at work on the latest issue of our zine. Here’s a bite-sized piece.

We want you to rethink DIY.

You don’t need Pinterest. You don’t need money. You don’t need to increase your carbon footprint. You can get everything you need for a fun, fulfilling project
from what other people throw away.


Plastic kills millions of animals per year. It fills our landfills and poisons our bodies. And it’s a miracle product.

Plastic is so light, strong, and cheap that we rely on it throughout the supply chain. What’s a practical environmentalist to do?

Well, there’s no easy answer. But reusing plastic already in the environment might be the closest we can get.

Gather your bags

Do you have an enormous bag of plastic bags in your kitchen? Who doesn’t!?

Grab 10 and stack them on top of each other. Cut off the top (loops) and bottom (seam). Fold lengthwise twice and cut crosswise 8 times. You should end up with several loops.

Tie ‘em up

Get two loops. Insert Loop One into Loop Two, then draw one end of Loop One into the other end of Loop One. This should form a knot connecting Loop One and Loop Two.

Confused? Watch a YouTube video and practice. It’s simple once you get the hang of it.

You can also make twine out of plastic (pictured). It takes a bit more effort but, again, watch a YouTube video to learn how.

Make something

You can use plarn to make just about anything you would make out of regular yarn. For most projects, that does mean crocheting or knitting.

Some ideas: bedrolls for houseless people, baskets, a plastic hairshirt to wear as penance for all the times you used plastic bags (just kidding. Unless...)

One way to get started without any other supplies? A no-sew braided rug!


Shipping pallets are to businesses as Amazon boxes are to consumers. They’re constantly accumulating and Jesus, please, take them if you want them!

But pallets aren’t trash — they’re wood! Not nice wood, but wood!

Pick your pallets

Wood ends up in a pallet instead of furniture for a reason. It could be warped, knotted, or just kinda ugly. And once it becomes a pallet, it can take some serious damage.

So don’t just pick up the first stack of pallets you find on the side of the road. Be discerning! Be sure to avoid any with bugs, rot, mold, spills, stains, or odors.

Overall, you want a nice, clean pallet that doesn’t look like it’s been around the block too many times.

You may be wondering where can you find these pristine pallets. Tile sellers are one good option — they get tons of shipments that take minimal abuse.

Prep your pallets

Even a relatively fresh pallet can still have a splinter-y surface full of loose nails. You should probably take care of that!

Thankfully, this is a pretty simple fix: hammer any nails that are sticking out into place and sand away the splinters. It’s a lot easier with a sander, but good old sandpaper works too!

Now you can paint or stain the pallets. It’s up to you, but it’s a good way to cover up ugliness and prevent bug infestations.

Use ‘em!

Once your pallets are prepped, use them for raised garden beds, raised bed-beds (I sleep on one!), or all sorts of furniture, if you have basic woodworking supplies and some time!

Find this piece + a moving interview with author SJ Sindu, a banging protest playlist, and more original art and writing in Awake. Available for download here!


The Mouths

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