An interior designer uses her creative talents to help the homeless and the environment by turning empty crisps of crisps into durable blankets.
drea Graham, who launched the Born Under a Lucky Star lifestyle brand during the lockdown, is looking for keen lovers to support her project as Christmas approaches and beyond.
It is part of a global initiative led by volunteers to help people living on the streets.
“Probably because everyone thinks about reusable plastic, I was searching Google for ideas to reuse plastic and help people,” said Andrea, based in Bangor.
“I came across the Crisp Packet Project, created in 2019 by a lady in England. I thought it was a great idea and thought I would definitely be able to do them [the blankets] and help.
“With the onset of winter, people who live on the streets are desperate for something that offers warmth and comfort.
“While it’s hard to believe that a discarded bag of cheese and onions could help the homeless, you’d be amazed at how the Crisp Packet Project can quickly adapt its use to provide a bit of reassurance to people facing difficult life situations. “
It takes about 150 empty crispy bags to make a sleeping bag, and thinner plastic is better because it’s easier to merge and fold.
“Packages should be opened flat, then washed and dried completely,” Andrea told the Belfast Telegraph.
“You can put them in the washing machine – once you’ve had enough, stick them on. The packages are then fused together with an iron, using parchment paper. You layer them and they bond together and then you coat them with plastic that you get at any store.
“M&S gave me the plastic [wrap] take their clothes off, and you add this on top of it to make it waterproof.
The aluminum lining on the practical blankets reflects body heat to keep the user warm. They are also windproof.
Andrea’s goal is to craft 20 blankets, and she’ll include a survival kit with each – something recommended by the nonprofit Crisp Packet Project – containing warm socks, a toothbrush, and a wash kit.
“Sleeping bags might only make one night if they get wet, while these blankets will cover the sleeping bag, which means someone will take out of their sleeping bag longer,” he said. she declared.
Each blanket takes a few hours to make, but Andrea is always amazed at how quickly they assemble and how durable they are, providing a lifeline for those facing a winter on the streets.
Eager to give back to the community, the designer has raised funds for a number of charities, but this particular project really caught her attention.
“This challenge was really appealing because it was making things, and as I went back to making things with my hands, I was like, ‘I could definitely make them,'” she said.
“Then there’s a sort of personal thing – that someone’s going to take advantage of it.
“Part of the project is to write a note inside each time you finish one, so that it is meant for someone in particular. “
Each blanket is made from materials that would have been landfilled.
With crispy packets said to take up to 80 years to decompose, this initiative offers an alternative to throwing them away, not to mention giving the less fortunate a helping hand.
“By reallocating that packaging, we can add value and use this resource to keep people warm and reduce waste and impact on the environment,” said Andrea.
“It’s amazing how easy it was to work with them. Even just the plastic that comes out of clothes, it’s used in every store. Everything is reused, which is fantastic.
“I know the local people will be happy to support this project because it is so easy to contribute and the results are direct and immediate.
The interior designer, who has also created a line of upholstery and lifestyle products, stressed that sustainability has become not just a buzzword, but a necessity.
“It has become overwhelmingly more important to everyone, and I think it’s worth keeping in mind when thinking about interiors,” she explained.
“I recently started using a lot of salvaged furniture – things that I cover up rather than buying new ones – because it’s good to mix it up. I think sustainability is the key for every business right now.
Andrea, who is half of the award-winning Nicholas Graham salon – the collection point for donated packets of crisps – has been thinking green since opening her hair business in 2005.
“It was probably early enough to become a green and ethical business,” she said.
“We used to use green hair color and that sort of thing, so it’s always been in the foreground, but even more so now.”
The show team will also get cunning and lend a hand.
Any unused packets of crisps will be donated to TerraCycle, another fundraising project for the Crisp Packet Challenge and rainforest charities.
“Of course, we don’t need an excuse to eat crisps, but there are three good reasons to eat more and give me the packets,” Andrea said.
Anyone interested in creating a blanket can follow the step-by-step instructions on the project’s website, and Andrea is happy to collect and distribute blankets.
To support the project, collect, wash and drop off empty chip packets at Nicholas Graham Salon, 13 Hamilton Road, Bangor. General instructions are available at www.crisppacketproject.com. For more information on Andrea see www.bornunderaluckystar.co.uk