How to Turn Plastic Bags Into a Sleeping Mat




Introduction: How to Turn Plastic Bags Into a Sleeping Mat

Do you have a pile of plastic bags in your home and don't know what to do with them? Plastic bags aren't accepted in our home recycling bins because they jam up machines at recycling plants and according to the Oceans Campaign Director for Greenpeace, only about 9% of all plastics ever produced have actually been recycled. So, what is a good use of all those plastic bags? Making a sleeping mat of course!! These mats are surprisingly comfortable and can be used as a camping mat under your sleeping bag, for catching some sun in your backyard, or for your pooch to sleep on. The best use for them, however, is to help a fellow human in need (a homeless individual who is sleeping on the ground). If you would like to donate any mats made to a good cause, visit

If there are specific parts of the process you are having difficulty with, check out these time marks in the video:

Preparing the Bags: 00:12

Starting the Mat: 00:50

Starting the Weave: 01:55

Adding a Bag: 02:28

Ending the 1st Row: 05:20

Starting the 2nd Row: 06:22

Connecting 2nd Row to 1st Row: 07:04

Ending the 2nd Row: 11:10

Starting 3rd Row: 12:04

Ending the Last Row: 16:56

*Shout out to all my neighbors on for contributing their collection of bags to help the homeless.



-A LOT of plastic bags

Step 1: Prepare Bags

On the side of the bag, under the handle, cut from the handle to the bottom end (dashed yellow line in picture)

Flip and do the other side

Pull the bag apart to create an oval

Step 2: Starting the Mat

To make things easy, you'll want to start off with 3 bags of one color and 1 bag of another (this way you can keep track of which bag is your weft (the bag doing the weaving)).

Gather 2 bags together and create your oval. Place on right side

Gather the other 2 bags and create your oval. Place on left side making sure the two ovals overlap

Pull the bottom oval slightly through the center of the top oval

Grab the other end (right side) of the bottom oval and bring it over the left side

Pull the left side of the bottom oval all the way through to make a tight knot

This is easy to do, but hard to explain with words and still photos alone. Watch the video starting at 01:11 to better understand.

Step 3: Start the First Row

Now that the bags are all connected, separate each bag with the white bag on the left

Take the white bag and go UNDER the 1st brown bag, OVER the 2nd, and UNDER the 3rd

Bring the white bag around the 3rd bag so it is on top. Weave the white bag UNDER the 2nd bag and OVER the 1st

Take the white bag around and under the 1st brown bag and repeat. Make sure you are always alternating over, under, over, under, over, under, etc.

You'll want to do this until your row gets to be about 35" long. This creates the width of your mat. The width can vary as each person has different measurements. To make it wide enough for yourself, measure from shoulder to shoulder and add about 7" to both sides.

Step 4: Add Bags

When you get to the end of a bag, you'll want to attach another bag to it so you can continue. This process is the same method used to tie the bags together in the beginning.

Bring the left end of the bag you are adding through the bag that it's being attached to. Take the right end of the bag being added and put it through the left end. (Whether you put the left through the right or the right through the left, the result will be the same).

See the video at 02:27 for visual

Step 5: Ending the 1st Row

When you get to the end of this row you'll want to gather the white bag with one of the brown ones to create 3 strands instead of 4. This is a normal 3 strand braid where the left strand goes over the middle, the right strand goes over the middle, the new left strand goes over the middle, the new right strand goes over the middle, etc. You only need about 3" of braid.

Step 6: Starting the 2nd Row

Flip the row so the back side is up (06:20)

Turn the row so the bottom now becomes the top (06:26)

Make sure the white bag is on the left side and separate it from the brown bag to create 4 strands again.

Repeat the under, over, under weave

To attach the 2nd row to the 1st, bring the white bag over and through an opening in the 1st row. (07:00)

Once through, bring the white bag from behind to go over the 3rd brown bag. Continue with the over, under, over, under weaving.

Every time you go under the 3rd bag, you'll bring the white back to the top to go through an opening in the 1st row. You'll find each opening underneath a white fold from the first row. (08:05)

Step 7: Continue Weaving

You will continue weaving, repeating steps 5 & 6 when necessary. This will create the length of the mat. A good length to reach is about 6'. Like the width, though, this can vary from person to person.

Step 8: Finishing the Mat

After weaving a million rows, you've reached the end! As you do at the end of each row (step 5) braid the bags together with a 3 strand braid. Fold the braid alongside the mat as if to start another row. (17:06)

Instead of starting another row, you will weave your 4 bags into the mat. It doesn't matter where they get woven in, just pick places that are easy to pull up a strand. (17:20)

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    Reply 2 years ago

    It really is such a good use of plastic bags!


    2 years ago

    I'd love to watch the video but cannot do so right now. I tried to click the "Watch Later" button but that is not an option because you have turned on "Made for kids" mode for the video. I don't know why YT disables watch later for kids videos but apparently they have.


    Reply 2 years ago

    Oh good to know. I'll change that.


    2 years ago

    Fantastic project!!

    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    Really nice job working with those plastic bags :)