All it takes is a couple of hundred bags and a crochet hook to recycle those plastic shopping bags into sleeping mats for the homeless.
Gerri Heineman and Dorothy Inderhees are among several residents of Twin Lakes Senior Living Community who use their skills to transform the bags. They donate the completed mats, which measure about 3 feet by 6 feet, to Matthew: 25 Ministries and church groups for distribution to the homeless.
Individuals and groups nationwide have made the mats for several years.
In Indianapolis, for example, where the women proudly call themselves Bag Ladies, at least one hospital auxiliary group got so many donations of bags that it had to stop accepting them.
The process of making the mats involves cutting the bags into thin strips that are knotted together into a product referred to as plastic yarn or “plarn.” Then the strips are crocheted into mats. The mats have enough spring and thickness to add comfort, but they are lightweight and easily roll up. A strap sometimes is added to use as a handle for easy transport.
The makers take artistic pride in their mats and try to mix the colors from different bags to make them attractive.