The Plarn Project: A New Way to Help the Homeless

Photo by Jessica Boehm

Photo by Jessica Boehm

Plastic bags. They seem to accumulate around our apartments and dorm rooms thanks to multiple trips to our favorite supermarkets. Butwhat should we do with these bags once they’ve served their purpose? One ASU Downtown organization has partnered with the Arizona Science Center to teach people a new form of recycling.

Plarn is plastic yarn that can be made from your average shopping bag. The bags are cut into long strips, stretched to form a more yarn-like material and than rolled into balls of plarn. From there, volunteers at the Arizona Science Center weave the plarn into mats that they distribute to the homeless. The plarn mats are insulated so not only do they serve as a sleeping mat, but during the colder months they are also used as blankets.

After writing an article about plarn, Barrett Leadership and Service Team Downtown President Tara Boyd decided to bring the idea back to ASU. The Science Center had never worked with a student group before, but now the Science Center comes to BLAST’D meetings to teach members about the science center and BLAST’D dedicates itself to collecting plastic bags and creating balls of plarn to give to the science center.

“I thought it was a unique opportunity that I hadn’t heard of before and I was hoping that it would kind of interest other people, it would be something different that they wouldn’t be able to do with any other student organization and it was something that they could start doing even at home,” Boyd said.

Josh Burton, BLAST’D ambassador, said he sees the plarn project as something forward-thinking.

“It’s revolutionary, actually,” Burton said. “It’s taking an everyday commodity and turning it into something people can use.”

As for Boyd, she said the plarn project has become a part of her everyday life.

“At home now, I have a little section of my room where I keep all of my plastic bags and when I get to a certain number, I’ll just go ahead and roll some of it into a ball,” Boyd said. “It’s kind of an ongoing thing that I really enjoy.”

You can join BLAST’D for their Pizza and Plarn event on February 19 at 5 p.m. in the A.E. England Building.

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5 thoughts on “The Plarn Project: A New Way to Help the Homeless

  1. amc says:

    I’ve helped out with this project before, and it’s really cool! It’s interesting to know that something we use every day can be used in such a creative, positive way to help someone else. I wonder if more student groups around the Valley will join in this and help out the Arizona Science Center. Do you think they will?

  2. jessicazook says:

    This is such a cool project. I was able to help out a little with this project and it was a lot of fun. Making the plarn is pretty easy and actually relaxing. I would really love to hear from someone has received a mat to see how effective and valuable it is to them.

  3. mjprice456 says:

    This is a really great idea. My roommates and I always have a pile of plastic bags that we never know what to do with. This gives new life to something that would normally get thrown out.

  4. […] Arizona State University club, Barrett Leadership and Service Team Downtown, has already held two meetings where they rolled and donated […]

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