People are becoming more and more environmentally aware and it seems as if everyone wants to do their share to help save the planet. As we continue to see things go from bad to worse, we begin to realize that even small efforts will have an impact. What if you had an opportunity to help the environment and recycle plastic bags at the same time? On top of that, you could use your newfound knowledge to help the homeless! I think all of us would take advantage of it.
Shelby Tillema is a senior at Lakewood high school. She is an active student that enjoys taking part in an afterschool club. Like many students, she also has a desire to make a difference but rather than simply sitting back and wishing she could do something, she got busy and did something. She found a way to create an afterschool club that would do more than help the environment, they may help the homeless.
Shelby gave an interview with JPS-TV in which she talked about a news report she had seen, ‘Bev’s Bag Brigade’. This group of women would produce plarn mats by the hundreds for the Volunteers of America. They have been doing it since 2009.
A plarn is a type of plastic yarn and the women crochet it into warm mats they donate to Volunteers of America. In turn, that charity hands them out to those who are in need.
The women produce hundreds of those sleeping mats they create and they reuse plastic grocery bags in the process.
That is what inspired the Lakewood Plarn Club. Shortly after it was created, students in that high school started turning plastic bags into something more useful.
Approximately 100 billion plastic bags are used every year around the world. It may take up to 500 years for each of those plastic bags to degrade in a landfill, according to the Center of Biological Diversity.
We also continually see reports about marine animals who consume plastic bags to their harm. Those bags are also contaminating the environment. On average, one US family will take home about 1,500 plastic bags every year.
This club takes plastic bags and puts them to good use. They meet after school to begin creating those plarn mats.
“You take recycled plastic grocery bags or just any plastic bags and you cut them into strips, and you tie those strips together and that makes this thing called plarn, plastic bag yarn,” president and club founder Shelby Tillema shared to JPS-TV.”
After being created, the students will then begin crocheting the plarn into sleeping mats. Those sleeping mats are comfortable, soft, water-resistant and durable.
After the plarn mats have been completed, they are given to Jeffco Action Center and donated to the homeless.
These high school students have a heart for the environment and they also help those who are in need.
When somebody really has a need for a warm plarn sleeping mats, it can be a treasure. It’s easy to see how spending your afternoon creating these mats for the homeless is a worthy way to spend your time.
“It’d be awesome if other Jeffco schools imitated this idea,” Shelby shared.
If you happen to be in their area and have some extra plastic bags, you may just want to stop and see how they’re doing.
Learn more in this video: