Have you ever stumbled upon some free, random, too-cool-not-to-take-with-you tchotchke while walking through the streets of Toronto?
There’s a digital version of that experience now, and it involves cruising any of the many local Facebook groups dedicated to free stuff — the virtual equivalents, essentially, of the IRL curbs where people put old furniture, art, toys, outdated pieces of tech and soiled mattresses (so many soiled mattresses) to rest.
A recent listing in one such group called Toronto FREE STUFF only caught our attention for its unique nature and sheer volume of items.
“100+ milk bags,” reads the listing, which was posted to the group’s nearly 60,000 members on Thursday. “Pickup in West Hill area, Centennial and Lawrence.”
Curious about why anyone would collect, store and attempt to offload a bunch of old plastic exterior milk bag shells, blogTO reached out to the poster to learn more.
As it turns out, the individual behind the post was trying to help a less tech-savvy friend get their treasure trove of bags into the hands of someone else who might be able to use them.
And if you still have no idea how one might actually use all these bags for any legit purpose, you’re in for a cool surprise.
“A friend of mine heard about a woman who would crochet these bags into sleeping mats and they would be shipped overseas. My friend got all the ladies at her bowling league to start collecting these bags,” said the poster, Cindy, on Friday.
“Unfortunately the woman who used to crochet the bags into mats is no longer doing it. Not wanting to see them go into the landfill, she asked me to post it and see if anyone had any use for them.”
Yeah! Apparently, you can make durable, comfortable sleeping mats out of the UV-resistent plastic exterior milk bags sold in much of Canada, and donate them to people sleeping outdoors.
Given that this type of plastic will never disintegrate, making mats out of them is doubly good in that it helps people experiencing homelessness while diverting waste from landfills.
Many independent community groups have organized their own drives to collect and re-use milk bags in years past, and while the organization Cindy’s friend had been collecting for is no longer doing so, there are plenty of others that are.
Got some spare time and an itch to help others? Pick up those milk bags in the West Hill area, learn how to weave them into a mat here, and visit one of several GTA drop off locations to get them into the right hands.