Mum saves 100 tonnes of plastic from landfill by turning inflatables into bags

A mum-of-two has singled-handedly saved 100 tonnes of plastic from heading to landfill – by making trendy handbags.

Georgia Wyatt-Lovell has turned inflatables, bouncy castles and deck-chair covers from around the world into accessories.

The 38-year-old from the Isle of Wight said David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II drew her attention to plastic pollution, particularly in the ocean.

Her work was so inspired that charity National Trust and Thomas Cook are now collaborating with Georgia to set up ‘Inflatables Amnesty’ collection points in the UK and around the world.

That means soon you could be picking up a stylish bag made by Georgia who’s given old plastic a new life.

When she first began, Georgia used discarded deck chair covers from the beach but soon holidaymakers sent her other bits.

People asked Georgia to make memorabilia out of pool inflatables or water-wings, all of which she created out of her dining room.

Fans can follow the journey of their donation, from an unboxing video posted on Instagram to the final product. And many buy back their transformed beach toys.

The designer explained: ‘There are certain bespoke orders that stick in my head. The hen party that sent in their blow-up man. He was really weird looking.

‘They wanted him made into a bag to give to the bride on her wedding day. His head was made into a rucksack.

‘We see what we get and where it’s damaged, and that dictates the final bag’s shape and style. Flamingos are the most popular.’

Now the business employs six people and operates from a shop in Ryde, Isle of Wight but will soon be moving to its first warehouse.

Each recycled bag starts at £5 for a small pocket bag, but complicated bags, which take days to make, can reach up to £145.

Some of the final products include tote bags, rucksacks, and washbags.

Bouncy castle materials are ideal to use as they can’t be recycled because of their mixed fibres, and inflatables have to be turned into pellets before they can be recycled.

So Georgia pairs the two together, using the strong bouncy castle fabric as the base of the bag, decorated with less durable fabric from inflatables.

‘For me, it just seemed like the obvious thing to do,’ added Georgia.

‘Don’t throw something away if you can re-use it. I want people to feel like they can get involved, and that they can afford it.

‘I’ve always wanted people to go “that’s a really nice bag” and then look at the tag, and think “oh cool it used to be something else”.’

There are inflatable amnesty drop off points around the UK, including Studland Bay, where the finished products are returned to the location they were discarded to be sold in the National Trust shop.

Some are as far-flung as Brisbane, Australia, Majorca, Spain, and Seattle, US.

Thomas Cook is also trialling the drop off points in Greece. You can find more information on the Inflatable Amnesty website.

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