Humans of AMHS: Erin Larmore

Humans of AMHS aims to showcase the individual stories within the Mitty community. Featured here is Erin Larmore, a member of the class of 2022.


My mother would always tell me to rinse out recyclables so that the recycling flow would not be contaminated with grease or leftover food. When I was little, my dad used to put plastic in the trash, but my mom would take it out and wash it before having me put it in the recycling. As I grew more interested in the environment, I found that there was very little demand for recycled plastics, causing the majority of used plastic to end up in the landfills of third world countries. This would eventually result in trash avalanches and polluted fishing sites.

I wanted to help create more demand, and although it took me a while to figure out how, I knew it would mean creating something beautiful from the plastic that no one currently wanted. Ultimately, that something would become recycled plastic pins in the form of smiling mushrooms and little robots. 

An example of Erin’s handmade mushroom pins.

I didn’t know anyone who had ever done this from home before, so I had no reference to go by and had to design my own process. I experimented with various plastics and temperatures, but hardly anything seemed to work. The pins kept coming out misshapen or with voids. I felt discouraged because it seemed like all of my efforts were failing. However, I was intent on making the unwanted plastic usable again so that it wouldn’t be wasted. I continued, with numerous failures and their according adjustments, before eventually figuring out a 3-5 day process.

It’s time consuming, but that is also what makes pin-making therapeutic. I feel at ease when making my pins, solely focusing on the next step. I get the opportunity to relax and sit in the breeze while melting the plastic outside, and I also love using my creativity to paint the pins. 

When someone buys a pin, I’m always excited. It makes me glad that they see value in used plastic that has been given a new form, and it motivates me to make more. I sell my finished pins on my Etsy page, Kaonti Creations. Kaonti—meaning “little” in Tagalog— is a name which I use to honor my heritage and my mother, the very person who taught me the importance of reusing and recycling plastic. She has definitely been a prime source of motivation for my pin creation since I first started. 

Erin experiments with various pin designs for a plethora of colorful options.

While I’m currently only using my family’s plastic, in the future, I hope to collect resources from around my neighborhood. By repurposing these bottle caps, takeout containers, packaging, and shampoo bottles, I am able to make a difference, one pin at a time.