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While environmentalists and government agencies debate the fate of the plastic carrier bag in the United Kingdom, US Parishioners are taking matters into their own hands, and putting their single use carrier bags to good use by making Plarn sleeping mats for the homeless.

The word ‘Plarn’, derived from the words “plastic” and “yarn” may not have made its way into the Oxford Dictionary yet, but the handy material made from strips of plastic carrier bags, is now widely used by DIY enthusiasts and eco-friendly designers, who crochet and knit the plastic yarns together to make bags, hats and jewellery.

After hearing about this fantastic new ‘material’, a group of nearly 40 parishioners in Detroit decided to donate their single use carrier bags and their spare time to knitting sleeping mats of approximately 3ft by 6ft, which they then donate to the many homeless living in the city.

A perfect way to recycle plastic carrier bags and reduce the amount of plastic waste lining the city’s streets, the Plarn sleeping mats take approximately 500 – 700 carrier bags each to make, and because they are plastic, they block moisture and protect the homeless against the cold surface of the ground.

The group collect all sorts of plastic carrier bags and sort them by colour, before cutting each bag into 4-inch strips. The strips are then tied together, spun into yarn, and finally rolled into balls for the knitters to fashion into comfortable one-inch deep mats.

As each Plarn sleeping mat takes approximately one month to make, one could argue that it would be quicker and possibly cheaper (in terms of time) to purchase sleeping mats for the homeless, but when you consider how many plastic carrier bags are recycled during the process, the pros far outweigh the cons.

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