Dogged fight to reduce waste transforms old mattresses into pooch snooze zones
Winnipeg's only mattress recycling facility creates new jobs with dog bed pilot project
Tired and used Winnipeg mattresses are going to the dogs in Winnipeg.
Mother Earth Recycling, just north of the Main Street underpass, is turning old beds into new ones for pets, and the project is helping to create jobs for women rebuilding their lives.
Mother Earth is the only place in Manitoba that tears apart and recycles mattresses, which they've been doing for two years. They currently break down about 400 per month but have the capacity to do around 4,000. They charge $15 per piece for the service.
"We strip apart the mattresses and divert the fabric, the foam, the metals and the woods," manager Jessica Floresco said.
After seeing all the fabrics and fillings lying around, owner Floresco came up with an idea for what to do with it all: make dog beds.
A bed for every pooch
Dogs come in all shapes and sizes and so should their beds, Floresco says.
Every mattress that we strip apart, we can recycle 90 to 95 per cent of the materials that come out of it.- Jessica Floresco
"The dog bed sizes are going to range from tiny little Chihuahua-size up to Rottweiler size, which is what my dog is," she said."
She already has tested a foam and fabric prototype on her dog. The bed was big enough, but the dog still only gave it a lukewarm review.
"He still slept on our bed," she said with a laugh.
Most mattress parts recyclable
Mattresses typically have a lifespan of seven to 10 years, said Ben Trapskin, whose website sleepsherpa.com compiles reviews of various sleep-related products.
Mattresses don't have to be garbage after that timespan, though.
"Every mattress that we strip apart, we can recycle 90 to 95 per cent of the materials that come out of it," Floresco said.
Six million mattresses are thrown out by Canadians each year, says Re-Matt, a similar mattress recycler in Calgary.
Turning over a new leaf
Mother Earth isn't just making canines comfy with the new initiative. As a social enterprise, they're using the beds to create jobs and help people.
"We're going to provide them [the materials] to different women's groups in the community," Floresco said. "Primarily focusing on women who are coming out of correctional institutions and providing them a resource for a sustainable income, by creating these dog beds."
The women will also get a chance to come work at Mother Earth, providing them with employment and training.
The beds aren't for sale yet, but Floresco hopes the project will progress through the spring and they'll be able to sell them at craft sales and farmers markets by summer, creating a sustainable source of income for the women who make them.
Changemakers is a multimedia series spotlighting the efforts and stories of everyday Winnipeggers striving to improve the lives of their neighbours. It was produced by senior journalism students in Red River College's creative communications program.