When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It may be overcast, but every cloud has a silver lining. If you want to keep plastic out of landfills and help the homeless, take up crocheting.
PLYMOUTH – It’s a variation on a well-known theme. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. It may be overcast, but every cloud has a silver lining. If you want to keep plastic out of landfills and help the homeless, take up crocheting.
Oh, you aren’t familiar with that last one?
We’re talking plarn here, plastic yarn, which when taken with wine and cookies results in durable, mold-resistant, 8-foot-long mats that are given to the homeless to keep them off the cold, damp ground.
At least that’s what happens around the dining room table in Magdalen Dowden’s home every Thursday night.
“It’s not my idea,” Kingsbridge Shores resident Dowden said, though she is the one that organized the knitting sessions at her house, baked the cookies and sent out the invitations.
“I heard about it on a closed Facebook page, from a childhood friend from Wales,” Dowden said. “It seemed like such a good idea. It keeps all that plastic out of landfills, gets a lot of people out of the house and in the company of their neighbors, and its helps homeless people.”
There are YouTube videos too, which is critical for first-timers because making plarn out of those throwaway plastic bags they give out at grocery stores and turning balls of plarn into large mats does not come naturally, even to crafty people.
First of course, you have to gather the raw materials.
Many people accumulate these bags and so have enough to get started. But it takes a lot of plarn to make a single mat.
“I put a container outside my house so people can drop off the bags anytime they want,” Dowden said. “They don’t have to help make the mats, but everyone is welcome.”
Everyone in this case, meaning the neighbors. Kingsbridge Shores has its own Facebook page, and that’s where Dowden posted an invitation to come by her house Thursday evenings and knit a little plarn.
Dowden sweetened the offer a bit, noting that there would be wine and cookies available while they made the plarn and knit the mats.
“We’ve had a nice turnout since we began,” Dowden said, “as many as eight or nine people on some nights, no fewer than four or five.”
The work, Dowden says, is rather mundane.
“It’s very simple and a little boring,” Dowden said. “You take plastic grocery bags, pile them on top of each other, four at a time, fold them length-wise, cut the handles and the bottom…
“Did I say a little boring?” Dowden said interrupting herself. “A lot. Which is where the wine and cookies come in.”
It’s not just the refreshments that attracts participants. It’s the camaraderie as well, and the belief that what you are doing can have a positive effect on the world around you.
Skeptical about that? Search for YouTube videos…