Plastic bags fly high in China as eco-friendly kites

Sun Nov 8, 2009 11:27pm EST
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By Kitty Bu and Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Plastic bags, the scourge of the environment, are flying high in Beijing, thanks to a retired engineer who is turning the waste into colorful kites.

Kites are believed to have been invented in China more than 2,000 years ago, where they were traditionally made from readily available materials such as rice paper, silk and plant fibres.

The modern version also uses a ubiquitous material which 71-year-old Han Fushan said was the easiest, and cheapest, thing he could find to make kites.

"Kites are my one and only treasure," Han, who spent most of his life creating architectural drawings before retiring some nine years ago, told Reuters.

"It's through kites that I have got to know so many people and make so many friends."

Han's plastic kites have made him into something of a local celebrity, and he is very proud of his cheap and environmentally friendly creations, which cost less than 15 U.S. cents to make.

After years of showing up at the same park at the same time each day to fly kites, Han has developed a solid fan base among other enthusiasts.

On average, one kite takes about two days of cutting, pasting and stringing to create, and many feature wildlife, sports stars and even Beijing Opera figures.   Continued...