Saturday, July 13

Recyclable Plastic Bags as Beds

plastic bag homeless beds
Plastic bags CAN be recycled, probably even in Georgia. That's where a Girl Scout troop decided to save recyclable plastic bags from the landfill in order to build homeless beds. I'm wondering whether it's a good activity or not. I want it to be, really, but I have my reservations. My wife says it's me being cynical, but I just like to make sure the feel-good stories really make me feel good.



First off, it seems like a good idea. Reuse or upcycle. Since you can recycle these bags, making beds out of them may not really be the best use, but if the bags were going to be thrown away, then it's cool. I just wonder what happens when the bed has served its purpose as a bed. I would think it could be hosed down and used indefinitely, but I'm not sure. But if the woven bags can still be recycled, then that's pretty sweet. 

Plastics also leach chemicals. 95% of plastics will leach these chemicals when real-world stresses of sunlight or washing are added to the mix. The chemicals tend to be estrogen-like, so I don't really know if they're going to harm any homeless people, but it is something to consider. I don't know the specifics of which chemicals leach from plastic bags, and some are worse than others. Basically, beds made of plastic would likely be banned for normal human purchase, either as mattresses for homes or as camping beds. Surrounding yourself in a chemical bath while sleeping is probably not a great idea for most of us, but I can still see the allure of not wanting to sleep on the ground.

In the end, I can't say using plastic bags as beds for the homeless is a bad idea, mostly because I can't think of a better material to be upcycled in this way. I guess you could fill the bags with Spanish Moss (which used to be used in mattresses), and they'd be softer yet much more flammable. 
Actually, filling the bags with anything, like newspaper, might add to comfort or insulation, but the beds would probably less portable.  Besides, I am sure all of this is really about the thought counting more than the actual item being donated. And the work involved. Girl Scouts trying to do good. 


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