LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Some people stuff their used plastic bags into a drawer. Others keep them under a cupboard.
Joy Lait uses thousands of bags every month to help the homeless. She started doing this after driving downtown.
“I felt guilty because there were a lot of people who didn’t have a home, and I thought to myself, how wretched, how awful this concrete is, cold and hard,” said Lait.
She decided that she wanted to do something other than donate money to the homeless care program. She wanted to create something for the homeless population, but first she had to learn how to do it.
Lait’s mother crocheted until she died at the age of 101, but she never inherits her mother’s skills. Fortunately, she found her skills on the internet.
“So I went to YouTube, the best source, and watched a number of videos,” said Lait.
After a night of YouTube training, she turned plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless. She hasn’t put the crochet hook down since she got the hang of it.
“I’ve been doing it ever since, and I don’t know if I’ll stop until they no longer need them, because then I’ll have something to do in the evening,” says Lait.
Your dining room is full of bags within bags that are stuffed into even larger bags. At one point she ran out of bags, but her neighbors came to the rescue overwhelmingly.
“I couldn’t go through the dining room, they overflowed and they fell out of the dining room,” said Lait.
Her sisters and a local artist often help sort and trim the bags, which takes hours before Lait can start sewing.
The mats will be donated to The Forgotten Louisville, a homeless aid program.
Glinda Adkins, an outreach worker in Forgotten Louisville, says the mats are helping the homeless tremendously.
“When it rains, the mats soak up moisture and your sleeping bags won’t get wet, so we don’t have to replace everything. It also gives them the comfort of their own home so they are not there, ”Adkins said.
“They don’t attract bed bugs. It’s not like carrying a sleeping bag around because they’re very light and you can use them to sit or lie down, and they’re wide enough for a guy in his pup, I was told, “Lait said.
The mats are picked up within seconds of arriving at the camps, but Adkins said some recently made had already been assigned to someone.
“The ones Joy made for us this week are going to a young pregnant woman and that will make it easier for her to get on and off,” she said.
The mats give the bags a second life. The Center for Biological Diversity reported that 730,000 tons of plastic items were produced in the US in 2015, but less than 13% of that was recycled.
“At least someone is using them that way because there are thousands of them. I hate seeing them end up in landfills because how many hundreds of years it takes to sit and dismantle, ”Lait said.
According to the Center for Biodiversity, it takes 1,000 years, but with a few hours a day, Lait can turn around 1,400 bags into two sleeping mats every month.
“What I do is a very small part of what people can do very sensibly,” said Lait. “It didn’t cost you anything, just time and we have the time.”