Keeping tabs

Carrie Circosta

Student sells purses, belts made of pop tabs

Senior advertising major Elizabeth Ballash transforms normal, everyday items into purses and belts. LESLEY KATZENMEYER | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

When one of Elizabeth Ballash’s friends cracks open a can of pop, they know to give her the tab off the can. The senior advertising major collects pop tabs to make purses and belts out of them.

“Ever since I was young, I’ve been into arts and crafts,” Ballash said. “I didn’t limit myself to what I could make.”

During high school, Ballash said she made hemp jewelry and was always into ceramics and recycling. During her first year of college, a friend gave her an article about how to make a pop tab belt – but she wanted to see if she could make a purse.

“I started the summer of ’04 and finished it in the summer of ’05,” Ballash said. “I worked on it on and off.”

Ballash made a second purse, which she said was a little better than the first, and sold it on eBay for $45.

Ever since then, Ballash said she started using different techniques and materials. She said she likes to crochet and weave pop tabs and use jump rings to connect the pop tabs. She even made a purse using pop tabs and grocery bags for her best friend.

“Pop tabs are almost free,” Ballash said. “I get them mostly from family and friends because I try not to drink pop.”

Ballash said she was able to get three to four garbage bags full of pop tabs through the Kent Interhall Council pop tab drive for the Ronald McDonald House last year. She said the Ronald McDonald House charged 30 cents per pound, but Ballash paid $1 per pound, so they could earn a profit.

“I need to wash them all because some of them smell like beer,” Ballash laughed. “I hope to use them all and that I have time to make belts and purses. I can sell them quickly and easily on eBay.”

She said she gets most of her supplies from eBay. Ballash orders string that is pink, black, silver and hemp because they are the most popular.

“But I can do any color and size,” Ballash said. “I’m about customization.”

She said the best thing about having a pop tab purse or belt is that, because it’s aluminum, it’s lightweight and durable.

Ballash even used her pop tab belts for another charity. For last year’s Relay for Life, she taught the Prentice Hall Council how to make pop tab belts, and they sold them at the relay. She said they made about $100, and she is planning on doing it again this year.

Ballash said most of the compliments she receives are for her pop tab book bag.

“I love it because it’s unique,” Ballash said. “I only made one, but if someone really wanted one, I would make it.”

Ballash said since the pop tab book bag takes more time than a belt or purse, the cost of one would be $120.

“I mostly sell belts because college kids are poor,” Ballash said. “Belts cost $25 because they are easier to make, and it takes a lot less time.”

Greg Tripi, senior special education major, bought two pop tab belts for his sister and cousin as birthday gifts.

“My sister loves it,” Tripi said. “She wears it all the time.”

But pop tab belts aren’t only for girls, guys can wear them too.

“I made a belt for my brother,” Ballash said. “I don’t make stuff just for girls. Belts can be masculine, too.”

Tiasha Walker, senior psychology major, said she would be interested in a pop tab purse.

“I would buy one because it’s different, it’s a good idea, plus it’s recyclable!” Walker said. “The purses are so cute.”

Contact features correspondent Carrie Circosta at [email protected].

If you want a pop tab purse:

Ballash said purses are around $60, depending on the materials used and how long it takes to make. To browse Ballash’s pop tab purses, belts and other products, go to, or e-mail her at [email protected].