It’s been a cold month but it is starting to warm up and signs of spring are coming. I’ve heard from many of you who have spent time making milk bag mats during the cold days of January and February. We are very thankful to the volunteers who have spent so much of their free time weaving or crocheting mats for the less fortunate. So far this year we have donated 753 mats to the homeless in Southern Ontario, El Salvador, Peru, Sierra Leone and Haiti. I have been fortunate enough throughout this covid pandemic to be able to arrange the delivery of mats to Canadian Food for Children and receive boxes of milk bags, which are stored in the warehouse. Shipments go overseas every weekday and our mats have been going with the other supplies that CFFC sends to the poor.
I have had a few questions about making mats from plastic bags such as grocery bags, Dollarama, Walmart, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, etc. Please do not use these bags in your mats! Milk bags are UV treated to make them resistant to light. Within 2 hours of light shining on a bag of milk in the stores, the milk starts to taste different and also the Vitamin A in the milk degrades. The weird thing is, the lower fat the milk, the faster the store UV lights alter the flavour and Vitamin A. This is the reason milk bags are treated for UV resistance and why we choose to use these bags to make mats. Most of our mats go overseas where sunlight, heat and humidity directly impact our mats. Milk bag plastic lasts and withstands the intense light and hot weather conditions.
If our mats have mixed plastic bags in them and they start to break apart, we may be asked to NOT send them overseas. If you have shopping bags, I suggest you donate them to food banks where they can be reused for people who need them to take food home. OR.. if you don’t have plastic recycling in your area, you can find places that recycle plastic bags. In York Region, we do not recycle plastic bags, but we can take them to Longo’s Grocery stores where they send them to be recycled. I also know that in Ottawa you can recycle them at participating Metro grocery stores.
Making mats is a labour of love; it takes time and commitment and we want the people who receive them to get a quality, long-lasting product. If we start to ship mats made with a variety of plastic bags, our reputation will be destroyed and we will be considered exporters of garbage to 3rd world countries.