On Oct. 19, the Thompson Student Activities Room was filled with dozens of volunteers working to turn plastic bags into balls of yarn, called plarn, as part of a collaborative effort to make woven sleeping mats for the homeless.
Jessica Davis is an elementary education senior who serves as the volunteer and outreach coordinator for the Center for Community Engagement and Experiential Learning. Davis explained the process of turning plastic bags into sleeping mats:
“All the plarn balls made from the event are being donated to the National Council of Jewish Women, based out of Southfield, Michigan,” she said. “By making plarn balls, we are completing the more tedious part of the process, meaning the National Council of Jewish Women can focus on weaving the plarn together to make mats, and then distribute them to those experiencing homelessness around the Detroit area.”
Davis said she has been planning this event since July. Students donated plastic bags to use for the volunteer project.
“We have been asked to use a standard-size plastic grocery bag to make plarn, so all other donated bags are being given to the Cardinal Food Pantry at SVSU,” Davis said.
Davis said she would consider the event a success if the volunteers were able to create enough plarn balls to make at least one sleeping mat. It takes around 30 plastic bags to create a single plarn ball, and Davis said one sleeping mat would take around 600 donated bags.
Davis said that SVSU and other communities donated a total of 3,760 plastic bags, which is enough for six sleeping mats.
“Over 50 people were in attendance at the event, and 54 plarn balls were made,” Davis said. “We collected more than enough donations to host another plarn-making event in the future, so stay tuned.”
Eric Rice is an exercise science freshman who didn’t know much about plarn before showing up for the event, which he said he heard about through the Corq app.
“I am volunteering because I think this is a great cause that I think should be normalized,” he said. “It sounded like a fun way to reuse plastic and benefit society. This event was an intriguing way to save plastic while still being able to hang out with friends for the night.
Rice said that events like Plarn for a Purpose are important to contribute to to help the environment.
“I know personally how many plastic bags get thrown away in a day when they can just as easily be recycled to be made into other things that can benefit the population.”