Educator uses a jump rope made from plastic bags

This Plastic Free July, positively impact the world by reducing plastic waste in your home, school, and community. One single-use plastic item that we always seem to have at home are plastic bags. With this project, put those plastic bags to good use by repurposing them into a DIY jump rope! Work with friends or family on this project to make the process easier and even more fun. Soon, you’ll be skipping sustainably into a plastic-free future!


Materials 

  • Four plastic bags (Note: four bags makes a jump rope that is approximately 7 feet, 7 inches. If you would like your jump rope to be longer or shorter, add/reduce the number of bags accordingly.)
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape for handles
  • Masking or painters tape

Steps 

  1. Reflect on how YOU can help save the Earth. What kinds of single-use plastic items do you use? What ways can you reduce your plastic waste this month and into the future?

  1. Prep the plastic bags. Cut each of the plastic bags open on one side so that they lay flat. Then, cut off the handles and any extra pieces so that you are left with four large plastic rectangles. 

Cutting a plastic bag into a rectangle


  1. Cut the bags into strips. Once a bag is flattened into a long rectangle, cut it into vertical strips (1 inch wide). You can ask another person to help you with this step. Do this to each of the large plastic-bag rectangles until you are left with just plastic strips. Try cutting twelve strips for each bag.

Cutting a plastic bag into strips


  1. Tie the plastic strips together. Take four of the strips from Step 3 and tie them to each other. When you do this with all the strips that you have, you should end up with twelve long knotted strips of equal length. The length should be a little longer than the desired length of your jump rope (see note under “Materials”). When you are tying together the initial strips from Step 3, make sure to double-knot them so they stay secure. We created three long knotted strips out of each bag. (See picture below left for what one long knotted strip looks like.)

Tying the plastic strips together


  1. Prep the plastic strips for braiding. Take six of the long knotted strips and overlap them in the order that you want (one on top of the other). Tie a small knot at the top of the set to secure the strands before braiding. Then with masking or painter's tape, tape the six knotted strips to the back of a chair, table, or something stable (like making a friendship bracelet).
     
  2. Braid the plastic strips. This is similar to a three-strand braid (find a tutorial here), except you will be using two strips for each “strand” of the braid so that it comes out thicker. Repeat Step 5 and this step with the other six strips. You will be left with two long plastic braids. The plastic strips might get tangled as you braid, so make sure you braid slowly and with help! 

Braiding the plastic strips


  1. Make the first handle. Hold the two braids together and secure one end of the rope by wrapping it tightly with duct tape. This should create a handle that you can hold on to. 
     
  2. Twist the braids together. To make the rope sturdy, tightly twist the two braids together. 
     
  3. Make the second handle. After the braids are twisted, carefully wrap the other end with duct tape, creating the second handle for the jump rope.

Adding handles to your jump rope


  1. Have fun! You’re all set to use your new jump rope created from upcycled plastic bags.