VIDEO: The “bag lady” of Lowestoft combats carrier bag problem

With more than 80pc of British shoppers using more than 40,000 of them in an average lifetime, a woman from north Suffolk has 'bagged' a winning formula with her unique idea

Affectionately known as 'the bag lady' Jean Green, of Oulton Broad, is true to her name and has come up with an eco-friendly way of combating the plastic carrier bag problem by turning them into stylish accessories.

The former social worker and swimming coach first learnt how to turn plastic bags into handbags from a German woman while holidaying in Portugal five years ago.

She said: 'She didn't speak English but she showed me the technique. I never did much with it though until this year when I was on holiday in Spain and started making the bags. That was when it all started and then I couldn't stop.'

Mrs Green estimates that she uses between 50 and 70 bags to make a single average sized handbag.

'We go camping and at the rallies all the people who know what I do bring me their carrier bags,' she said.

'I have also put in requests to my neighbours and many of them bring me theirs too.'

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The process Mrs Green uses is called 'plarn', meaning plastic yarn. This is where the plastic bags are made into the strips needed in order to crochet the bags.

'I should say normally the bags would take me about four to five hours, and sometimes up to seven or eight hours, to make. I sometimes spend the whole evening doing one,' she said.

The grandmother of two sells the bags to fund-raise for charity, including most recently the East Anglian Air Ambulance, which she raised �40 for.

She's also a keen knitter and has immersed herself in the craft class at the Kirky Centre in Lowestoft, after under-going an operation on her thumbs due to suffering from serve arthritis.

She said: 'I'm just hooked on it. You can do it anywhere and it's made out of something someone would just throw away. They are just fascinating and I never know how they are going to turn out so I never make the same shape twice. They are all different - that's the beauty of it.

'They are also a bit of a challenge.

'I see so many bags hanging off trees and if I can make something of them then that's better than seeing them littered.'

• For more information or to purchase a bag please call Claire Harris, organiser of the craft class, on 07549 655180.

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