Newman student Annie Dang has placed collection boxes for plastic bags throughout several campus buildings in hopes that enough will be collected so that she can turn them into mats for the homeless.
Dang initiated the project as part of an internship with the Partnership for Global Justice (PGJ) in New York City. Dang’s former classmate and friend, Khoi Nguyen, encouraged her and classmate Linnea Ristow to apply for the internship.
The PGJ is a network of religious congregations, other groups and individuals who work with the U.N. to address and advocate for issues important to the Catholic Church’s mission, including justice for the oppressed and respect for the diversity of world cultures. The PGJ is headed by Executive Director JoAnn Mark, ASC, Ed.D., a former Newman professor and administrator.
Through the donation of plastic bags, Dang hopes to create mats for the homeless that are easy to transport and lightweight. The mats can be used as a blanket for warmth or refuge from watery conditions.
The type of plastic bag does not matter — a Walmart or Ziploc bag of any color or size — since they will be cut into strips and tied or crocheted together. Also, the bags do not need to be new. Dang prefers the bags to be used since the goal is to clean up the environment through recycling.
Dang said she is curious to see how much plastic people have accumulated that they can get rid of and don’t need anymore. “The bags are not biodegradable, so I want to upcycle something we normally throw away by making mats for those in need.”
It takes 1,200 bags to make one mat that is 36 x 72 inches. Dang is accepting donations through mid-October. She has invited the Traditions and Transitions classes to help with the project.
Dang explained on a personal level, “I hope this project will help me grow. I’m not a task completer. I start projects but I don’t finish them. I want to see this project through. I also hope I can help organize the community. Recycling is important to me. Taking the extra step to recycle shows you care about the planet because it’s the only one we’ve got.”
She hopes this project will help people be more aware of how much plastic is put to waste and how it can be transformed into aiding those in need.
Once the mats are complete, Dang is considering partnering with The Lord’s Diner to hand out the mats to those who come for a warm meal.
For more information, contact Annie Dang at [email protected].