A Windsor, Ontario rotary club crochets sleeping mats for the local homeless made of plastic bags.

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Author: Taylor Campbell, The Windsor Star

Collect, cut, connect, and crochet.

That was the mantra members of the Rotary Club of Windsor (1918) followed during a creative recycling session on Sunday to turn plastic bags into sleeping mats for local homeless people.

“When I was reading in the news about the increased number of homeless in Windsor and Essex County, I thought this would be the perfect idea,” said Julia Lee, a Rotarian who came up with the idea after seeing a news broadcast about people in Winnipeg making these mats a year ago. “If they have to be outside, then at least they can be off the cement.”


Blake Morency, 6, helps cut plastic bags to be made into mats for the homeless by members of the Rotary Club of Windsor 1918, at the Children’s Safety Village, Sunday, February 24, 2019. DAX MELMER / WINWP

About a dozen members of the local club’s Young Rotary Leaders division, all under the age of 40, formed an assembly line inside the Safety Village building in Forest Glade. The first volunteers sorted through the thousands of plastic bags collected over the past two months — ones with handles were more ideal for the project than ones without, they said. Next, other volunteers used scissors to cut the bags in two, one handle left on each half. From there, others connected the sections of plastic in a long chain by tying them in knots.

Then, it was time to crochet the mats.

“These plastic bags would usually be in the landfill, but instead we’re reusing them,” Lee said. It took around 400 bags to make one mat, which was about the size of a twin mattress. The third of a mat Lee had completed after a few hours of work was surprisingly soft, she said, and would be very easy to clean.

“The goal is that, hopefully, we can get schools involved, or grocery stores, where they can collect them for us, and then we can come and pick them up and cut, connect, and crochet.”

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