Students recycle plastic bags to make mats for the homeless

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - At Académie Lafayette, 6th-graders are recycling hundreds of plastic bags to make mats for the homeless.

“Instead of going to the landfill, we can recycle and make them into mats for homeless people,” 6th-grader Cole Hierholzer said.

“These plastic bags aren't just plastic bags, they're something that can really help people who are in need,” 6th-grader Madison Wafer-Lyman said.

The school has partnered with Sarah Stolberg, creator of Beds Of Bags, who is helping the students make the mats. 

“I like taking what otherwise just gets thrown away and using it to make a difference in the life of someone in our community,” Stolberg said.

Each mat uses about 1,000 plastic bags. With this project, Stolberg said students learn about helping others and the environment.  

“Most plastic bags don't even get recycled,” Stolberg said. “The majority of bags get thrown into the trash and they do take about a thousand years to decompose in a landfill. So these bags are sitting around for generations and generations and generations.”

This is a yearlong project the 6th-graders are doing.

"We are helping those who sometimes can't help themselves or just need a little hand out to get them to the next place in their life,” Summer Program Director Breanda McClain said.

6th-grader Sam Haney said some parts of the mat were harder to put together than others.

“Hardest was probably when you get to the other end, then you have to turn around. I think I finally memorized that part,” Haney said.

Students said crocheting these bags allows them to turn trash into someone else’s treasure.

“I can give them more. I can give them a place for them to sleep on. I can give them a place where they can be safe and that makes me feel really good inside,” Wafer-Lyman said.

“It gives people a place to sleep at night, and a good night's sleep can go a long way,” Haney said.

Throughout the school year, they will distribute the mats to different organizations that work directly with the homeless.

If you'd like to learn more about how to make the plastic mats, click here.

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