Daily Archives: February 27, 2011

I’m Packing My Bags

Who knew drinking milk could help earthquake survivors and third-world medical patients? When my mom was in town for a visit recently, she asked me to start collecting our used milk bags instead of trashing them.

The particular bags in demand are the colourful outer plastic bags that hold the three one-litre pouches of milk. Believe it or not, these bags can be cut into strips, then crocheted into sleeping mats that are washable, bug-resistant, durable and somewhat cushioned. They can also be made into useful tote bags. It was news to me, but milk bag groups have been cropping up all over Ontario.

It takes hundreds of bags to make one mat. That’s why my mom, who has a friend doing the mat-making, asked me to keep mine. I said I’d spread the word a little further. I sent an e-mail out to folks in my community.

The response was immediate. Within 24 hours, several neighbours had written back to promise they’d save bags. Someone else began setting up additional collection sites at a school and her church. Yet another of my friends, a mom of three milk-guzzling kids under the age of six, wrote: “We easily go through three bags a week, so this will definitely ease my conscience and do some good at the same time!”

I think that’s the key behind this swift outpouring (if you’ll pardon the pun). Saving bags is such an easy thing to do, and yet it makes a difference in two important ways: It reduces garbage – always a great thing – plus it helps people far, far away. These are individuals we normally could never reach. When you hold something in your hands that can be a part of saving a life or comforting a trauma victim, you feel connected. And probably just a little more powerful in the face of global disasters.

Curious to know what the finished products look like? Check out this short video. And if you feel motivated, drink your milk. Save your bags.