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Plastic bags + caring hands = new lives by Ruth Werstler, Garrett Kallenbach and Mary Moy

New Life for Old Bags (NLOB) is a community-based project for the homeless that helps the environment and improves the lives of all who are involved. It helps the environment by reusing plastic bags; it aids homeless persons by providing them with a sleeping mat; and it is a meaningful activity for the people who make the mats.

As volunteers in NLOB, participants cut plastic bags into strips to make plastic yarn (“plarn”), which is crocheted to make sleeping mats. In Chicago, Cornerstone Community Outreach distributes the mats to people who are homeless. The need is great, as the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimates that in 2011–12 there were approximately 105,000 homeless people in the city of Chicago, where NLOB is based.

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