From milk bags to mattresses: Volunteers weave mats for a good cause
They start as milk bags, and end up as mattresses.
A volunteer initiative launched in Toronto following the 2010 Haitian earthquake has helped countless of people in need -- including those in disaster zones -- by providing mats made of recycled milk bags.
The non-profit group, dubbed MILKBAGS Unlimited, is headed by Angela Kesthely. She says hundreds of organizations across Ontario and parts of Eastern Canada are now taking part in the volunteer effort.
"It's expanded to 300 schools, churches, businesses, ladies' groups … It's all over the place," she told CTV Toronto Tuesday.
Each mattress is made of approximately 420 milk bags, with a lifespan of approximately 25 years. They are also waterproof, bug-proof and can be easily cleaned and dried.
The mats are made by cleaning the milk bags and cutting them into strips, before they are looped and fitted on a frame. Volunteers can then begin weaving the mattresses, giving new life to what's normally considered household trash.
In Ajax, Ont., a group of volunteers meet each week at a local church to make the mattresses. The idea was brought to the group by volunteer Anne Johannisse after she saw it being made at her weaving group.
"As soon as I saw it, I got very excited," she said.
Johannisse's excitement for the project has since spread at St. Andrew's. The church's leader, Rev. Shalini Rajack-Sankarlal, says the activity has become a popular one among his congregation.
"When you tell me you’re taking milk bags and making them into mats – yeah, I never thought it would have blossomed in to what it’s blossomed into," he said.
In addition to mats, milk bag scraps are also used to stuff pillows and to weave into handbags.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Scott Lightfoot