Michigan Students Using Plastic Bags to Make ‘Mile of Mats’ for Homeless

Homelessness is a prevalent problem that is steadily on the rise, and with over 500,000 homeless people in the US, it becomes more and more difficult to plead ignorance and turn the other cheek.

Several people realize this ever-growing problem needs as many solutions as possible, and some set out to contribute toward providing these solutions.

Three Rivers High School students in Three Rivers, Michigan, are among the courageous individuals seeking to create a better society through their endeavors.

Students from the National Honor Society at Three Rivers High are alleviating the pain of homelessness in their community by a new project they started calling, “A Mile of Mats.”

“A Mile of Mats” is an environmentally and socially conscious project meant to effectively put to use thousands of plastic bags that would generally go to waste, and make something useful from them: sleeping mats for the homeless.

National Honor Society (NHS) advisor of Three Rivers High School, Ashley Eby, implemented the idea of making sleeping mats out of plastic bags after it was suggested to her by a parent, and then she shared the idea with members of NHS.

After a general consensus was reached, and the project was undertaken, the students got down to the logistics of making the plastic mats.

The plastic bags are cut into long strips called “plarn,” a hybrid name given for plastic and yarn. The plarn is then crocheted similar to the way that a blanket or scarf would be crocheted. Each sleeping mat is six-foot by four-foot, and for every sleeping mat created, 500-700 plastic bags must be used.

Since the start of this project, which began in January, five mats have been created. Although that doesn’t seem like much, the project’s ultimate goal is to make 880 mats. Ultimately, the 880 mats will stretch out to a mile long, which explains where the project’s name came from.

The NHS students’ efforts toward bettering their community is inspiring, but they can’t do it all alone.

They have asked community members to help support them during the pursuit of their goals by pledging $200 for every plastic mat that is made. These funds will be used to move onward with their current initiative, as well as to fund future projects.

The students of Three Rivers High are making a mark in their community—people showed an increasing interest in the project, which is exemplified by a growing number of bag donations and extra helping hands to aid in the creation of the plastic mats.

Alongside the fact that these students are making a mark in their community through their social efforts, they are also learning important lessons about this world that they would have been blind to otherwise.

Prior to the project, homelessness seemed like a distant problem that wasn’t something to worry about, but “A Mile of Mats” opened the students’ eyes to the fact that the problem is closer to them than they thought.

The students realized that homelessness is on the rise, and that it even hit close to home for them.

“They don’t realize there are students working among them in the hallways that don’t have a place to sleep at night,” NHS advisor, Ashley Ely, told Fox 17 News. “They were definitely made more aware of this issue in our area and our community.”

The students’ goal to make nearly nine-hundred mats may seem a bit excessive, but they are eager to accomplish their project and won’t stop until the goal is reached.

Once the NHS students successfully make “A Mile of Mats” a living reality, they intend on personally delivering the finished project to homeless shelters around their community.