IDEA: Plastic Bags Tackling Homelessness in Winnipeg


You know that random bag of bags that’s probably in a closet or under your sink? The one that you’ve been meaning to recycle or reuse or return? Now you can put them to good use!

A local organization called 1JustCity in Winnipeg is collecting plastic bags to make sleeping mats for Winnipeg’s homeless.

As a part of the “Just a Warm Sleep” 2018 campaign, the church coalition is collecting plastic bags to be used for ‘plarning’, a technique that ‘upcycles’ plastic grocery bags and turns them into ‘yarn’ for crocheting, kniting or braiding. Using this method, West Broadway Community Ministry and 1JustCity, along with volunteers, will be crocheting these bags into sleeping mats on December 3 2017 at 1 p.m., 109 Pulford St.
Find the full story on CBC or through 1JustCity’s post.
*You can drop off the bags at West Broadway Community Ministry (222 Furby St. Winnipeg, MB).

Did you know it takes about 500 plastic bags to make 1 sleeping mat?

This is an interesting take action idea because it tackles two major issues within our society: plastic pollution and homelessness (and the barriers that often accompany that).

Starting with initiatives such as this ‘plarning’ idea can be a great way to get involved. Not only will you start to learn more about plastic pollution and homelessness locally and globally, but getting others involved and sharing an experience like a ‘crochet-a-thon’ can generate some great conversations and take action ideas.


Click the following links to learn more about the campaign, read the CBC story, learn how to plarn, learn more about plastic pollution, and learn more about homelessness.



There are so many different circumstances, factors, and barriers that shape why someone may be experiencing homelessness. Understanding these underlying causes is just as important as tackling the issue itself.

“Homelessness describes the situation of an individual, family or community without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, and the experience is generally negative, unpleasant, unhealthy, stressful and distressing.” (Canadian Observatory on Homelessness).

Homelessness is an issue that exists almost everywhere, locally and globally. While sleeping mats are an amazing start, be inspired by this initiative and learn more about homelessness. Action towards ending it needs to include prevention strategies and longer-term solutions. Investigate your community’s homelessness strategies, examine the problem at a local and global level, and engage in meaningful conversations.

Find Winnipeg’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy here.
Learn more about prevention and long-term solutions from End Homelessness Winnipeg.


From water bottles to straws to shopping bags, plastic is everywhere. Most of this plastic ends up in our landfills or in our oceans. In fact, more than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. That’s similar to emptying a garbage truck of plastic into an ocean every minute.

This pollution has a big impact. It takes up to 500 years for a plastic bag to break apart in our landfills and oceans, releasing toxic chemicals into our soil and water systems. Animals can often get caught in plastic waste, sometimes resulting in mammals getting trapped underwater or becoming entangled in plastic bag handles or rings that are used to keep cans and bottles together. As the plastic breaks down, it separates into smaller pieces that are often mistaken as food, resulting in additional toxins and sometimes death.

This is a global problem. Since the popularization of plastic products (bags, straws, this keyboard I’m typing on, packaging, etc), plastic has become normalized and a way of life. Yet, the impact of these materials will be seen for thousands of years, affecting future generations in ways we are not fully aware of yet.


Learn more about plastic pollution from The Atlantic and our oceans from the UN with Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life Below Water.


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