It took 158 people, approximately 6,000 milk bags and an entire day, but they did it.
Student staff and full-time staff of York U’s Student Community & Leadership Development (SCLD) work/study and volunteer programs joined forces Sept. 1 to weave 10 mattresses using donated milk bags.
The initiative, which was part of SCLD’s annual service-learning event and coincided with the students’ orientation, was the official kickoff to a new Milk Bag Mattress program that is running in cooperation with the City of Markham.
The program collects donated plastic milk bags and uses them to weave mattresses that are durable, waterproof and bug-resistant. The mattresses are used all over the world in emergency zones and as temporary surgical mats.
Milk bags that end up in the landfill can stay there for roughly 1,000 years and can be harmful to wildlife and the ecosystem.
Saba Rafiq, student leadership and development coordinator, said students were split into 30 working groups at the Sept. 1 event. Each group was given special looms to weave the plastic milk bags. The resulting panels were affixed to make a number of mattresses. It took 80 panels to make 10 mattresses, she said.
SCLD borrowed looms from the City of Markham, and also worked to make their own.
The finished mattresses, said Rafiq, will be shipped to those in need via the City of Markham.
For this event, SCLD gathered donated milk bags from several participating donation depots – but the group is hoping the York U community will start dropping off their own bags to S172 Ross Building.
“We have looms now, so we will collect milk bags through the year and hold another weaving event,” said Rafiq.
Details on a future event can be found by visiting the SCLD website.
For more information, call SCLD at 416-736-5144.