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People in Canada Are Making Sleeping Mats for The Homeless Out of Plastic Bags

Plastic shopping bags are being turned into sleeping mats for the homeless from Windsor to Winnipeg across Canada.

Last month, Sophan Buffa, a General Brock Public School teacher was featured on CBC after she organized her second “Plarn Party.” She wants to teach students in the Windsor-Essex area how to make mats using plastic yarn.

"There are a lot of schools and a lot of kids out there that want to give back, but they're not sure how to do that," Buffa told CBC. "This is such a great way to do it where everyone can participate, it doesn't limit anybody.”

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To make plarn, plastic bags are cut into strips, knotted together, and rolled into a ball. Then, just like with yarn, you can use it to crochet. Buffa and her crafty helpers make sleeping mats and pillows using this method.

It’s a great way to help the homeless community and to use plastic bags that often go to waste.

And it’s not just the Windsor-Essex region that’s using this tactic.

Just this past Sunday, volunteers worked together at a church in Winnipeg to make mats for the homeless there.

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The church began letting homeless people sleep there last year after a woman froze to death, according to CBC.

When the temperatures dipped, homeless people were invited in to spend the night, but the church only had 15 sleeping mats. These new plarn mats will now be available to those who sleep in the church, according to Ray Eskritt, communications and development officer for West Broadway Community Ministry.

Eskritt organized the event over the weekend. She said sleeping mats normally cost between $50 and $70, so these plarn mats are a great alternative.

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"It's wonderful to see so many beautiful souls out and helping each other and thinking about the people," Eskritt told CBC. "But at the same time, it's heartbreaking, because it's required, because our government is not able to meet the needs of its population or isn't willing to meet the needs of its population."

Winnipeg experiences one of the coldest winters in Canada. It was even noted as one of the five coldest cities in the world in 2016, according to AccuWeather.

It is estimated that 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year.

It can take between 400 and 600 bags to make a pillow and mat, which may seem like a lot, but the amount of help that that small act of upcycling could provide is indisputable.

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