A local interior designer is using her talents to help both the homeless and the environment by turning used crisp bags into blankets.
Bangor-based Andrea Graham, creator of the Born Under a Lucky Star brand, and also one half of multi-award-winning Nicholas Graham Salon, is appealing for people to collect their used crisp packets to support her project, which is part of a global initiative run by volunteers to help people living on the streets.
Andrea said: “To most people, an empty crisp packet seems to have no value for reuse or recycling, but they are, in fact, an excellent resource for making survival blankets.
“Rather than polluting the planet by ending up in landfill, I am asking local people to see a waste product as having a second, valuable use.
“With winter now setting in, people who are living 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 onion can help the homeless, you will be amazed how Crisp Packet Project can quickly adapt its use to bring some comfort to people facing challenging life situations.”
Andrea came across the idea of turning crisp packets into survival blankets while researching ways to support both people and the environment through her work as an interior designer.
During the pandemic she put her skills to action and created a new line of lifestyle products under the ‘Born Under a Lucky Star’ brand which features stunning soft furnishings, printed textiles, including robes and scarves. The designs are based on all things celestial from the moon to the earth’s elements and zodiac signs.
She continued: “We all have to do our bit to address waste and the impact it has on our environment. But we also have to reach to help our fellow human beings, especially when they are facing tough times,” she said.
“The Crisp Packet Project really appealed to me as a designer because it enabled me to able to make something from recycled material that would directly help the homeless.”
The global Crisp Package Project offers advice on turning bags into survival blankets, highlighting that the silver side of a crisp packet reflects heat back into the body. At the same time, the strong materials they are made of are supple and long-lasting, making them an ideal material for reuse in this way.
It takes approximately 150 empty crisp bags to make a sleeping bag, and thinner plastic is preferable because they are easier to fuse together then fold up. Therefore, walkers crisp packaging is apparently ideal for this project.
“It really is a win/win situation as crisp packets tend to go straight to landfill. A packet of crisps takes mere minutes to devour, but the packaging can take up to eight decades to decompose. However, by repurposing this packaging, we can add value and use this resource to keep people warm and reduce waste and environmental impact,” Andrea says.
“I know local people will be keen to support this project because it’s so easy to contribute, and the results are direct and immediate. With the packets collected, we are going to make survival blankets and kits that include gloves, socks, wash flannel, toothbrush, soap and hand sanitiser to be distributed to local people who need them.”
Andrea’s husband Nicholas is also supporting the project by making his renowned Bangor hair salon the collection point for donated crisp packets, his team will also be getting crafty and helping out.
Andrea continued: “The team at Nicholas Graham are also keen to give back to the local community as much as they can, so we will all be working together to make as many blankets as we can.
“We are now appealing for salon guests, friends, family and the wider community to collect and donate their empty crisp packets and drop them off at the salon, and we will do the rest.
“Any we do not use will be donated to TerraCycle, which is another great project raising funds for the Crisp Packet Challenge and rainforest charities, so nothing ends up in landfill.
“This engaging project offers crisp lovers the opportunity to enjoy their favourite salty snack, protect the environment and help their fellow human beings. Who would have thought something we toss away without a second thought would have such value? Of course, we don’t need an excuse to enjoy crisps, but there are three good reasons to eat more and give me the packets.”
Empty packets can easily be prepared for use by either washing them in warm soapy water and drying them by hanging out or towel. Or put them in an old pillowcase, tie it up and pop them in your washing machine on a quick wash in of not more than 30 degrees. Or cut them open and place them in your dishwasher.
If you want to support Andrea’s drive to help keep the homeless warm and safe this winter, then simply collect, wash and drop off your empty crisp packets at Nicholas Graham Salon located at 13 Hamilton Rd, Bangor BT20 4LF.
For more information about the global Crisp Packet Project, visit www.crisppacketproject.com you can check out Andrea’s designs at www.effectinteriors.org and follow her on Instagram born.underaluckystar and on Facebook.