Montreal

Daycare manager turns empty milk bags into mats for Quebec City homeless

With the holidays fast approaching, Sandra Lauzière and a group of volunteers have been busy weaving empty plastic bags into mats for Quebec City's homeless population, helping to keep them dry if they have to sleep or rest outside.

Effort to go zero-waste evolves into social initiative as volunteers, schools and businesses join cause

Clément Gaudreau, Geneviève Houde, Léa Houde and Sandra Lauzière have joined forces to make sleeping mats out of empty milk bags. (David Rémillard/Radio-Canada)

Sandra Lauzière strives to keep her family-run daycare in Quebec City as environmentally friendly as possible, but some waste is hard to avoid.

In particular, her daycare goes through a lot of milk and, every week, she's left with a pile of plastic milk bags.

"I always wondered what to do with the bags," Lauzière told Radio-Canada.

Finally, after searching the internet for answers, she discovered they could be woven into impenetrable mats.

From there, an idea grew — an idea that would not only meet her goal of reducing waste, but also of being socially committed.

With the holidays fast approaching, she and a group of volunteers have been busy weaving empty plastic bags into mats for the city's homeless population, helping to keep them dry if they have to sleep or rest outside.

Realizing other people might be interested in helping her, she posted her idea of weaving mats for the homeless to social media. She received a surprising amount of support. 

"It became much bigger than I thought," she said.

It takes about 150 milk bags to form a mat. They are cut into strips, tied together like ropes and then placed on a loom to weave.

The mats are waterproof and easy to roll up for transport. As people began joining her cause, she needed to collect more bags.

Sandra Lauzière weaves the waterproof mats on a makeshift loom made out of wood and nails. (David Rémillard/CBC)

She again turned to the internet, posting her need online. Soon local businesses, daycares, schools and residents donated their empty bags.

A drop-off point was established at a family store on l'Ormière Boulevard called Bébé d'Famille boutique. Soon hundreds of bags began pouring in.

The response a bit overwhelming at first for Lauzière, but she says she's been been hard at work ever since.

"I can do two or more mats a day," she said, noting her family has been supporting her effort along with volunteers.

The Fondation de Lauberivière, a multi-service refuge for the city's homeless, has shown interest in distributing the mats, she said, and a local school board is also looking to get involved.

With files from Radio-Canada

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