Mundelein woman crochets sacks for the homeless
Elaine Workman crochets plastic bags into sleeping mats for the homeless on Thursday, July 5, 2012 in Mundelein. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Annually, Americans use about one billion plastic shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of landfill waste. Less than 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled each year.
Source: Clean Air Council
Updated: August 13, 2012 7:02AM
MUNDELEIN — When Elaine Workman and her husband moved into their senior community in 2007, they noticed a number of plastic bags blowing around the complex.
They don’t see plastic bags littering the 37-home Glen Garden Estates any more.
Workman collects plastic bags from the other residents and crochets them into mats for the homeless.
“Our job is to try to keep these (bags) out of the landfills,” said her husband, Marshall Perlman.
Each mat is 4 by 6 feet. Workman said they were for homeless people to sleep on.
It takes 1,000 plastic bags to crochet one mat. She cuts each bag into three strips, winds them together, rolls them into a ball (like a ball of yarn) and then crochets them together.
Workman said a friend was making these mats for her church’s homeless ministry. That friend taught her how, but has since relocated out of the area.
She called making the mats an “easy” process, but time consuming. She spends three to four hours per week on the project.
So far, she has two and three-quarters of a mat completed. Workman started in 2009, but took a break for health reasons.
She is a retired nurse. She and Perlman have 10 grown children between them and 18 grandchildren.
It takes several months to finish one mat.
Workman also said her progress depends on her plastic bag supply. Most of the Glen Garden Estates residents bring her their bags.
“I think this is a good idea to not only get rid of plastic bags, but to help the homeless,” Workman said.
She is considering recruiting fellow mat crocheters from the Mundelein Senior Center, but is not yet sure when or where she will make her next mat donation.