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Group to make beds from bags

Ashley Charnley | Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There is more to a plastic bag than carrying groceries, senior Monica Aguirre, president of Saint Mary’s Environmental Action Coalition (SMEAC), said.

The Coalition will be collecting plastic bags to make sleeping mats and send them abroad to disaster victims and several community organizations, Aguirre said.

“We plan to contact a few organizations within the South Bend community, in order to see if they will take a few completed mats and hand them out to anyone living on the streets who would be interested,” she said. “They are very lightweight and weather resistant.”

SMEAC advisor Cassie Majetic, a professor of biology, said the practice is popular around the country right now.

“I actually first heard about this idea over the summer from my mother, who is a teacher and Girl Scouts volunteer,” Majetic said. “Since then, we’ve found numerous examples of youth and volunteer groups doing this, and SMEAC decided they want to be a part of it.”

Right now, the group is collecting plastic bags from students outside 252 Science Hall at the College until Earth Week, which is April 17 to 23. Aguirre said students will be making the mats during the week.

“During Earth Week, we will host a workshop teaching interested students how to make the mats, we will provide the bags as well, each student will then be responsible for turning in the completed mats before finals week,” Aguirre said.

Majetic said it is important for students to save all their bags because it takes 500 to 700 plastic bags to create one mat.

“Each [plastic] bag is cut apart and the loops are tied together to make plastic yarn, which is then crocheted into a mat,” Majetic said. “Each mat requires 500 to 700 individual bags, so we need as many donations as we can get.”

Aside from the bag collection, the group is also conducting a school-wide recycling survey, Aguirre said.

“Well we have a recycling survey out now,” Aguirre said. “Our club hopes to discover creative, new ways we can educate the campus about how to recycle. So anyone can complete it, it just takes about five minutes.”

SMEAC’s main goal is to make Saint Mary’s a more environmentally-friendly campus, she said.

“The Environmental Action Coalition is a club that works to educate the campus about environmental issues,” Aguirre said. “We want people to feel that they can personally make a difference with the simple choices they make.”