AUG 07, 2017 3:20 PM PDT

These old ladies are making a difference with plastic bags


They dubbed themselves "The Bag Ladies" and they're on a mission to change the world, both socially and environmentally, one plastic bag at a time. Using what they call "plarn," or plastic yarn, the ladies cut old plastic bags into strips and then roll them together to create a yarn-like material. They then crochet 3x6 foot long sleeping mats which they donate to homeless people and flood victims. It takes 600-700 plastic bags to make one 3 by 6-foot mat.

Meeting once a week in a church in Union City, Tennessee, these women brave the arthritic pain that plague their fingers because they believe in their missions: to positively impact the environment by recycling plastic bags, reducing waste; and to serve the homeless community, particularly families who recently became homeless after the flooding in Louisiana.

"Sometimes while you're in the middle of a mat, you just realize you're helping someone, and it makes you want to keep doing more," said Bag Lady Janice Akin, 66. "We really enjoy it. We get to have fellowship and have fun with each other."

The ladies first started meeting in January 2015. Since then they have made more than 160 mats from more than 10,000 discarded plastic bags, Akin said. Each mat takes between one or two weeks to make.
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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