Turn bags into sleeping bags for the homeless

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Plastic bags: they are convenient, but they also cause havoc on the environment.

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, or 365 bags per person, which requires 12 million barrels of oil for production.

It takes about 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill. Additionally, “the bags do not completely break down but photodegrade, becoming microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment,” the center said.

Despite the known harms of plastics, current data does not suggest that we are slowing down our use any time soon.

“The world is producing twice as much plastic waste as it was two decades ago, with most of it ending up in landfills, incinerated or flowing into the environment and only 9% being successfully recycled,” according to a 2022 report from the Economic Cooperation Organization. -operation and development.

“Reducing plastic pollution will require action and international cooperation to reduce plastic production, including through innovation, better product design and the development of environmentally friendly alternatives, as well as efforts to improve waste management and increase recycling,” the OECD said.

Knowing that it will likely take years to solve the plastic problem, local activist and co-founder of the Sedona Area Homeless Alliance’s Executive Director, Laurie K. Moore, launched a program designed to “remove more of 120,000 plastic grocery bags from the local environment”. ”

The program, called Operation BedRoll, was modeled after similar programs taking place across the country, which turn used, clean plastic bags into artfully woven mats.

SAHA plans to distribute the mats to homeless community members.

“[SAHA] is always looking for win-win projects that include community involvement and Operation BedRoll is one of them,” Moore said. “The project is going well and continues to grow in interest and involvement.”

While meetings are currently held at the Sedona Public Library every first Wednesday of each month, Moore is also reaching out to surrounding communities to generate interest.

On June 30, Moore and SAHA volunteer Gail Basham gave a presentation on the project at the Cottonwood Public Library.

The presentation included a weaving lesson by Basham, who is also the founder and CEO of More Than Self, a nonprofit created to help Mayan families in Guatemala.

Basham’s Mayan-inspired weaving techniques involve using a loom, which she said her husband made for her from mostly recycled materials. The plastic bags are cut and then tied together to make ‘plarn’, or plastic yarn, and are woven on the loom in the same way as more traditional fibers.

Plastic grocery bags are woven together using a loom. Daulton Venglar

Moore said that to make a rug, it takes between 500 and 800 bags, and it would take one person about 25 hours to create one.

Moore said “separating each step into teams not only speeds up the process, but allows anyone to get involved, regardless of experience.”

“Volunteers collect and deliver the bags, turn the bags into ‘plarn’ balls, crochet or weave the bed rolls, or deliver them to other organizational partners,” she added.

So far, the project has collected enough bags to make between 10 and 16 mats.

“We’ve collected about 8,000 bags so far from people in the community who seem very excited about the project,” Moore said. “We’ve always found that people really want to help and when you can provide an easy way to do that, it’s easy to find volunteers.”

“There is a bag collection and plarn drop off and pick up station located inside the Sedona Public Library at 3250 White Bear Road in West Sedona and we hope to have stations installed at all libraries soon. local.”

Moore added that “there is a collection barrel on the porch of the Sisterhood Connection Foundation at 1631 Mingus Ave. at Cottonwood. All donated bags must be clean, dry and free of holes. Additional drop off locations will be announced shortly.

More information is available on the Sedona Area Homeless Alliance Facebook page or by calling (928) 978-9387.

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