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From bags to beds: U students aim to create sleeping pads for homeless

By Ashley Moser, KSL TV  |  Posted Dec 6th, 2017 @ 10:32pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah students are hoping to create sustainable sleeping pads for the city’s homeless by turning plastic bags into beds.

Senior Kaitlin Mclean is leading the charge and since the beginning of October has collected nearly a thousand plastic bags. She said the plastic will be used for material to crochet the mats.

“I am taking a very underutilized resource and turning it into something super useful,” Mclean said.

The physics major said for many of the city’s homeless who lay a blanket on the cold concrete, it is hard for them to keep warm.

“When you have a pad like this, there are gaps that are full of hot air, so your body traps the air up … that keeps you a lot warmer than sleeping on a thin layer,” Mclean said.

Volunteers from across campus have spent countless hours slicing, connecting and crocheting the plastic yard, or "plarn." Mclean said it takes nearly 30 hours to complete just one 3-by-6-foot mat.

“It’s a long process,” she said. “To create a sleeping pad, we estimate it takes 300 to 500 bags. It really depends on how big the bags are.”

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Mclean hopes the recipients of the mats remember one thing.

“We care and we want to help, we are trying to do what we can with the no funds that we have or with our free time to give something back,” she said.

The group hopes to distribute the sleeping pads to the homeless around downtown Salt Lake City by Christmas. Their ultimate goal is to create 100 sleeping pads by Thanksgiving 2018.

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