Plastic Bags Changing Lives

http://irational.org/vahida/plastic_bag/sleeping_mat/

Hannah Wicks, Staff Writer

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Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) started a project to create plastic mats for the homeless, called Recycle For Hope. The mats consist of plastic grocery bags that can be collected in any regular store; one mat consists of 500 to 700 bags.

The process of making the mats is a long procedure that needs much attention. First, the plastic bags need to be collected. Second, the bags need to be flattened and counted. The bags are then folded and have the ends and handles cut off. With the ends cut off the bag is then cut into strips. The strips are chained together to create the yarn that is need to crochet the mats together. This is plastic yarn that is known as plarn. The plarn is then crocheted into a mat that is four feet wide and six feet tall.

The reason FBLA has chosen to create Recycle For Hope is that the advisor, Mrs.Warnock, has brought the awareness of the homeless count in the Douglas County area to the attention of the club and wanted to make a difference in struggling people’s lives. The way the mats will make a difference in a homeless person’s life is if they are living in the streets in Douglas County, the ground gets wet from rain. When the ground gets wet, sleeping bags and blankets absorb the water. Then when a person were to lay on the ground with the soaking wet bedwear, they become wet and cold. This leads to illness, no sleep, wet clothing, and  no motivation to make a change in their life. The mats do not collect water when laid on the ground keeping the persons bed wear dry when they lay it on top of the mats.

FBLA has been receiving motivation and support from the community from both social media, news reports, and participation in making the mats. They have been able to reach out to the community and receive over 35,000 bags, which passed their original goal of 25,00 bags to make 50 mats.

Even though they have been receiving much success in the beginning, they have been noticing some obstacles along the way. Finding storage to keep the 35,000 plus bags has been a constant issue. They have asked for no more bags because of this issue, yet they still have been receiving more help with bags being given to them. The awareness of the project has not been the dilemma, it has been the call to action aspect. Finding people to participate in making the plarn and crocheting the plarn into the mats has been an extreme problem. There has been participation, but the project has been a much bigger task than was expected and needs more hands on deck.

FBLA had a goal to complete 50 mats by January 31, the day that UCAN was having their annual homeless count. FBLA was not able to make this goal with the lack of call to action, but they were able to produce a few mats to give to UCAN. Instead of FBLA being discouraged because they were not able to complete the initial goal, they evaluated the amount of work that is needed and the call to action that it would take to accomplish the goal. They have decided to extend their goals ending date to the end of the semester. If you would like to get involved, come to Mrs. Warnock’s room in the Vo-tech and ask her how you can help.

 

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