By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net YOU often see crocheted bags made of threads and yarn. But have you seen one using plastic? The Invisible Institute, a non-government organization (NGO), is now using plastics as material for their homegrown crocheted bags. “As we all know, we have many poor women who really need more income generating activities because they have so many people depending on them. What we’ve done is to take those people whom I call ‘invisible’ or ‘unseen’ and put them together with invisible waste, which I consider factory waste,” Invisible Institute founder and artist Ann Wizer said. The group uses “clean trash and garbage bags” as materials to teach poor women to crochet. “It’s a very simple skill. And we’re also teaching any men who are willing,” said Wizer. Crochet is a French term that literally means “hook.” It describes a “series of interlocking loops onto a chain using a slender rod with a hook at the end,” according to CrochetDoilies website. Wizer began the organization in collaboration with another non-government organization called Gems Heart, which gathered women in Malibay, Pasay in October to train every Tuesday afternoon. “In this project, I have given very little design advice because I was trying to see what they would come up with themselves first,” said Wizer. Virgie Buencochillo and Rene Sison, two of the participants in the workshop, related how the program changed the way they eventually see plastic. Buencochillo, for her part, said she now saves plastic bags from groceries and uses them as materials for crocheted bag. She also uses empty containers as another material. Sison admitted plastics turned into bags can generate extra income. “Sometimes, our budget is insufficient since I still have kids who are studying. That’s why I use the money that I get [from this new livelihood] when we’re short of budget,” Sison added. So far, Sison has created bags out of scrap materials, such as rejected syringe, plastics, excess carpet. He said he has earned about P 4,000. Buencochillo has also finished some bags which has earned her a total of P 1,950. Sison said crocheted plastic bags are very cheap to make. You don’t need a lot of capital since the materials are junk. Rejected and unused syringes, for instance, cost less than P 100. “It’s a self-empowering skill,” added Wizer who admitted that the organization still needs funding to hire more experts and staff. “The next step for the Invisible Institute is to get some design expertise. I love to see more designers and artists involved. We also need funding because we have to make this a real, legal entity and a real cooperative and later run by Filipinos so that they can feel the benefits,” explained Wizer.