Craftivism Craftivism: Plarn

Published on November 16th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe


Craftivism in Action: Upcycled Sleeping Mats for Chicago’s Homeless

Craftivism: Plarn

The craftivism group New Life for Old Bags transforms plarn into sleeping mats for the homeless in Chicago.

When my friend Gwynedd shared this article that she wrote for Chicago Reader, I knew that you guys needed to hear about this ongoing craftivism project. Ruth Werstler at New Life for Old Bags works with Chicago-area volunteers to crochet sleeping mats for the homeless out of plarn.

What I love about this project is that it hits every aspect of craftivism for me: using reclaimed materials to make a difference and raise awareness. The mats provide a clean, dry, soft sleeping surface for people who would otherwise be sleeping on the ground or maybe a salvaged piece of cardboard.

Related Reading: Recycled Hawtness: Buses Converted into Mobile Showers for Homeless

Each mat uses 500-700 reclaimed plastic shopping bags. That is a lot of waste diverted from the landfill, y’all! Werstler got the idea when her father sent her an article about a group in Palatine, Illinois that was turning plastic bags into sleeping mats. That group – The Bag Mat Project – has created a video about how to make the mats:

Since their start in 2009 New Life for Old Bags has created over 1000 sleeping mats (as of November 9th). Each mat takes about 80 hours to make, including the time required to convert those plastic bags to plarn. According to Gwynedd’s story at The Reader:

Besides having helped almost 1,000 homeless people be more comfortable and recycled tens of thousands of plastic bags, Werstler loves that the project has brought people together. “This is good for the homeless and it’s green but it’s also a thing anyone can participate in,” she says. “The program works for two-year-olds and 107-year-olds.”

If you’re in the Chicago area and want to get involved, they work out of the United in Faith Lutheran Church and meet the first Saturday of each month from 10am to 1pm.

Image Credit: Creative Commons Plarn photo by EraPhernalia Vintage

Keep up with the latest in the world of green crafts by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , , , , ,

About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

2 Responses to Craftivism in Action: Upcycled Sleeping Mats for Chicago’s Homeless

  1. Pingback: Sustainablog | Jeff McIntire-Strasburg has been blogging a greener world via sustainablog since 2003!

  2. Pingback: Crafting a Green World | The home for green crafts and tutorials!

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑
  • Let’s Connect!

  • Advertisements

  • Back to Basics Ebook

    We are thrilled to have a project in Jen Gale’s guide to mending. Get your copy here!

  • Crunchy Kids!

    Our very own Scott Meeks (aka Crunchy Scott) has a new book of kid-friendly green crafts. Get your copy from Amazon today!

  • Popular Posts + Pages

    How do I reuse...?

    The Crafting a Green World guide to choosing green art and craft supplies.

    Green Crafts for Kids

    DIY Ideas for Home

    Green Holiday Crafts, All Year Round

    Do you love toilet paper roll crafts as much as we do? Today we’re sharing 50 projects that you need to see!

    We’ve rounded up 25 incredible DIY crafts and activities that will make you rethink the average disk. Click through each link below and be inspired!

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.