Introduction: Making Milk Bag Mats : Mats 4 Haiti

Northwest Haiti Christian Mission Canada has a Mats 4 Haiti Program that distributes milk bag sleeping mats and totes for people in Haiti. I first heard about it when I was talking with some women at a local coffee group. They had an overabundance of milk bag yarn made and ready to be used, but not enough people to make the mats. Since I knew how to crochet I volunteered to try making a mat if they would drop off a load of the yarn at my house.

This instructable will tell you more about why the milk bag mats are useful, how to make your own milk bag yarn, and how to make a milk bag mat.

Northwest Haiti Christian Mission Canada is a registered Canadian charity (#86060 0345 RR0001)

Mats 4 Haiti Program:

Step 1: Why Milk Bag Mats?

  • To help the environment by recycling plastic milk bags. Did you know that it takes about 15 years for these bags to break down in our landfills? Why not repurpose the bags as a durable and long lasting sleeping mat?
  • To help people who would otherwise be sleeping on the ground or on leaf mats. The mats protect them from dampness and biting insects. Insects make homes in the leaf mats and bite the sleepers throughout the night. The insects do not like to live in the plastic mats. They are also easy to wash and they dry quickly.
  • They provide surgical beds for medical teams in makeshift hospitals and they are used as packing material for the aid containers that are shipped to 3rd world countries. When the aid containers arrive they are unpacked and distributed to those who need them.

Step 2: Making Milk Bag Mats: Preparing the Milk Bags

Materials needed:

  • Plastic milk bags (lots of them!)/ or prepared milk bag yarn
  • Scissors
  • Measuring device
  • Crochet hook (between 9 - 11 mm)

If you are being provided with prepared milk bag yarn you can skip preparing milk bags and making yarn steps.

Preparing the Milk Bags

Make sure that the milk bags are clean before you use them. Also, make sure that you are not using any milk bags that say biodegradable (such as Natrel bags).

Lay the milk bag out flat and cut off the very bottom edge of the bag, making it into a tube. Do not cut the side edges. When we cut the milk bag it should form loops. These loops will be strung together to create our yarn.

Cut the bag into strips that are between 1-2 inches wide.

Continue to cut the milk bags into strips until you feel like you are ready to start looping them together to make the yarn. You can always come back to this step and make more strips later on.

Step 3: Making Milk Bag Mats: Making the Yarn

Take two loops of the milk bag.

Place one of the loops so that it overlaps the other loop

Lift the end of the overlapped loop and wrap it back over the other loop towards itself.

Pull the loop through itself and gently pull tight.

Continue this process by adding a new loop to the end of the chain you have created.

You can roll up your long chain of loops into usable milk bag yarn. The milk bag yarn is two ply because of the loops. Make sure that you are using both plys when you use the yarn.

Step 4: Milk Bag Mats: Making the Mat

You can make an adult size mat or a child size mat.

Child size: 30" x 48"

Adult size: 36" x 60"

The plastic yarn is 'stickier' than regular yarn so crochet very loosely.

Start by making a beginning chain until it is the required width of the mat. It is a good idea to make the beginning chain an extra inch wide, that way if your tension is tight and the mat slightly shrinks it will still be big enough.

Single crochet in rows until the mat reaches the required length of the mat. Try to keep your tension very loose.

For more information about how to get started, this website is filled with some great information and links:

This page can help you connect with others who are involved in your area. It can give you information on where you may find milk bag drop offs and who to contact about finished mats.

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