Milk Bag Mats

Put your old milk bags to good use: Weaving mats for families in developing countries

“One person’s trash is another’s treasure.” Weaving old milk bags into sleeping mats for people living in poverty may be one of the coolest examples of this. For several years now, my Step-Mom and Dad have been turning bags of milk into Bags of Awesome.

Crafty knitters and crocheters use the exterior bags (the ones that carry the three bags of milk) as their medium. The milk bags are cut into strips that are then woven into colourful mats. A 2 x 3 foot mat takes approximately 100 bags to complete. Community “matting groups” collect the bags from drop-off bins at grocery stores, churches and other local centres.

So what happens to these mats after they’re finished? Here’s my Step-Mom, Dianne, to explain:

“In three years time we have shipped 3,660 mats. These mats are sent to Haiti, Zimbabwe and El Salvador. We have just received word that some mats that were sent to South Africa two years ago are still being used. They are used to sit on in school rooms, to sleep on, for curtains, shower curtains, insulation and anything else they may need them for. Every time a shipment is sent it warms our hearts knowing that someone will have a mat to sleep on and it is thanks to us.”

Matting groups are springing up in communities everywhere as awareness for this creative way to make a difference grows. Love it.

Zimbabwe Milk Mats

Mats being put to use in Zimbabwe

completed milk mat

Completed mat

Milk mats pile
Packing up the mats

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Josh Martin
Josh is the creative force behind Badge of Awesome, where he noodles and doodles about life and the lessons learned from it. He's the author of Simply Blunderful and creator of The Overcoming Obstacles Toolkit.

6 thoughts on “Put your old milk bags to good use: Weaving mats for families in developing countries

  1. Rob says:

    Very cool! Kudos to your step-mom and dad. FYI – the only reason I drank more milk than you during our milk alliance was so that we could go through bags more quickly so we could ship mats to developing countries. I was trying to help.

    • Josh says:

      Yeah, they’re awesome. The’ve gotten a few new groups started too – spreading like wildfire! And just for the record, that milk alliance was bogus from day 1!

  2. Shannon says:

    We also have a collection of milk bags that I’m wondering where we can donate them to. Any suggestion would be appreciated as I know they can be repurposed. Thanks.

  3. Mike says:

    Wouldn’t the better technique be to teach the identified “developing countries” this practice so that they can do the same with all of the plastic they burn on account of no recycling or trash services being available?

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