Operation Green Team encouraging groups to crochet plastic bags into mats for the homeless

Huntsville
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The average store uses thousands of plastic shopping bags a week. Everyone has them, and now there's a city-wide effort to do something better with them.

"These will be presented to the homeless, and these mats are made out of the plastic," explained Joy McKee, Director of Huntsville's Operation Green Team. "They're crocheted."

"Which are perfect for the people that are laying on the ground right now," said Rusty Loiselle, CEO of Help Our Homeless Vets and Citizens.

So if you have plastic bags, and you can crochet, you're in. About 500 to 700 plastic bags go into each mat; they are lightweight and easy to roll up and carry.

The idea came from how-to tutorials on the web, and Operation Green Team is turning it into a city-wide challenge to help out, just in time for winter.

"We're going to put the challenge out to the community to see if we can get 500 made by the end of December," said McKee. "We're always looking for ways to reuse something. These mats are the perfect reuse for the bags."

It can take as many as 1,000 years for one of the bags to biodegrade in a landfill. So Operation Green Team says why not reuse and give back at the same time?

"We have a whole bunch of people who would love to have that under them when they sleep at night," said Loiselle.

Billions of bags are produced each year, and millions of barrels of oil are used to create them.

"That little thin plastic mat will keep them out of the water, out of the dampness, it will keep them off of the rocks," said Loiselle.

The city will even provide the bags. So whether you're part of an organization or an individual, your crocheting craft is needed.

"It's easy, it's fun, it's reusing bags, and it's making a difference," said McKee.

Operation Green Team is even organizing a crocheting class for anyone interesting in helping their efforts.

If you have bags to donate, you can bring them to Huntsville City Hall, located at 308 Fountain Circle, Huntsville AL 35801.  The city does have a good supply of bags -- what is needed more, is people to crochet them.  To learn more about Operation Green Team, call (256) 532-5326 or go to Huntsvilleal.gov/greenteam.

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