LETHBRIDGE, ALTA. -- Most people have a drawer or cupboard stuffed with plastic shopping bags but unfortunately, you can’t recycle them and it feels like a real shame to toss them in the trash.

For a group of social work students in Lethbridge, those bags that you might think are just taking up space present an opportunity to help the homeless by making portable sleeping mats.

“We do have rough sleepers here in Lethbridge. I think sometimes we think that it’s just more those coastal towns that are warmer,” said student and member of the group Beds from Bags Gabriella Bertoia.

“We don’t see all the people sleeping on the streets in Lethbridge because of how cold it is. They’re usually more sheltered, but it’s a thing here.”

So how do they make the mats?

First, bags are folded and cut, then they are looped together to create plastic yarn or ‘plarn’.

plarn, lethbridge, homeless, ball,

Once that key step is done, the plarn is crocheted together to create the easy to clean, bed bug-free mats.

“I think everyone deserves some form of comfort and I am aware that a plastic sleeping mat is probably not as comfortable as it could get,” said Beds from Bags member Amy Cook.

“We just want to do what we can to improve the lives of people in and around Lethbridge.”

The group started up just over a year ago as part of a school project but has continued long after the project wrapped up.

Because all of the members are students, it’s been tough to find the time to consistently work on making plarn to be crocheted into mats, but the team is still putting in work.

Plarn, mat, Lethbridge, homeless

Once the sleeping mats are complete, they are passed on to the SAGE Clan Patrol to be distributed to people in need.

For those interested in helping out or supporting the cause, the group says they don’t need any bag donations.

However, they say they hope that anyone looking for a new helpful hobby will pick up some bags to put together some plarn.

So far, the group has made and distributed more than 20 mats while working on the project in their free time.