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 Recycling Milk Bags into Bed Mats 2011-21

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


click here for Milkbag Groups in Ontario



We are in need of someone to transport finished mats & totes from Ottawa to Mississauga or Kleinburg or Lindsay


 With scissors, crochet hook and willing hands, we can transform our garbage into these washable, quick-dry bed mats which provide an alternative to sleeping on the damp, hard ground. Medical teams in Haiti found them invaluable.  Haitian child on sleeping mat

The milk bags are also crocheted into strong, waterproof Tote bags.


We use the colourful outer milk bag which holds the three smaller clear bags inside.  


We also recycle all of our  extra plastic bags into plastic wood.


Everyone welcome to help with this recycle project: 

    Collecting, Cutting, Rolling or Crocheting or delivering finished Mats?


For more information on where to get milk bags or how to get started or to book a workshop leader for your group, contact:


  Admin if you are in the Ottawa area


  Angela if you are in Greater Toronto or Southern Ontario  https://milkbagsunlimited.ca/contacts-for-you/


  Anne if you are in Lindsay/Peterborough area (705 878 4941)


Mat drop off locations:

Check with your local mission to see if they are in need of some.


Canadian Food for Children Warehouse
1258 Lakeshore Rd E.- Mississauga L5E 3B8- 905 -274-9239  Open Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 12:00noon


Angela's home 344 Westridge Drive – KLEINBURG, ON L0J 1C0 (Islington & Major Mackenzie)  Leave the mats in the driveway at any time.


Plastic bag Drop-off locations

Many of our grocery stores have bins in the entryway.  We have saved thousands of milkbags from landfill but there are still tonnes of plastic bags put in the garbage every week.  Please bring yours to a nearby dropoff to be recycled into something useful.  If it is stretchy then it can be recycled.  Many of our grocery stores have bins in the entryway.   Some communities collect bags at the curb such as Arnprior, Athens, Brockville, Kingston and Rideau Lakes, Toronto.  Select the link above to learn more about recycling.

For photos & info click here


Other Ontario locations accepting milkbags can be found here  https://milkbagsunlimited.ca/contacts-for-you/




Upcoming Workshops - Everyone Welcome  (Free)


Currently on hold due to Covid restrictions





Local Groups of Milkbag project workers  



Where do they go? 


We send them by volunteers to charities who can use them as packing material with other Aid Supplies (food, medical supplies etc) and then distribute them in the 3rd world countries where they are most needed.   Here are links to some of the groups who help us with shipping/distribution:


Canadian Food for Children http://www.canadianfoodforchildren.net/#!about/c20r9  


and others as they are needed


If you are interested in buying a  tote bags.  I have found a crocheter willing to sell her tote bags so that she can donate the money to charity.  contact Admin




  • To help the environment by recycling plastic milk bags – give them a practical use while they take many years to decompose.
  • To help people who are sleeping on the ground or on leaf/reed mats.   It protects them from dampness, biting insects and the common ‘paper cuts’ from leaves/reeds.  The sleeping mats are easy to wash/dry.  There is a desperate need for the homeless in Haiti since the earthquake.
  • To provide surgical beds for medical teams in makeshift hospitals.  There was a desperate need in Haiti after the earthquake.
  • To provide packing material for the Aid containers which are shipped to 3rd world countries.
  • To provide other useful items like carry bags to 3rd world countries.



There is a province-wide network of more than 70 small groups who have been working on this project for about 8 years.  These groups include schools, churches, Scouts & Guides, seniors groups, crochet clubs etc.  





    Step 1:  Collect bag.  Make sure it is clean.  Lay flat

    Step 2:  Trim off both ends to make it into a tube with clean edges 

    Step 3:  Cut into one long strip or cut into loops and string them together (width anywhere from 1inch to 2inch)

    Step 4:  Roll the plastic strips into a ball like yarn (or save in a bag) 

    Step 5:  Crochet hook 7mm, 8mm for totes and, 9mm, 10mm or 11mm for mats.  (size K, L, M, or N  ( be aware size 7 = 4.5mm)

                Chain stitch until 36" wide then single crochet until mat measures 60" long.  For a child’s mat use 30” x 48”

                Keep the tension very loose with nice big holes. 


                    Or use a weaving loom  (made by local high school and sold at cost ~$10)




Getting Started slideshow


Hint: the plastic yarn is 'stickier' than regular yarn so crochet very loosely.  


Do not use milk bags  which say BioDegradable on them.   (Natrel brand)


Hint: If you decide to collect bags, I recommend you ask people to lay them clean and flat in a box.  This makes them much more compact for storing, transporting and cutting.  It makes it easier to know how many you have (2inch thick is approx 125 bags).   


Finger-crocheting and weaving are also options if you don't like using the hook.


Weaving -  how to cut, loop and weave - 5min video 


Tote bags crocheted from milk bags are also very useful.  Info and hints and patterns below (size approx 16"x16" or 30 stitches x 30 rows with a 9mm hook):

How they are used http://www.nwhcm.ca/oldsite/Gallery/Articles/MakingABag.htm


Tote bag Pattern plus hints  https://chinterests.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/bag-instructions-33.pdf


          And there is a great need for baby bibs, toques, booties, and blankets (these are delivered to newborns in Haiti)


Here are Links to videos and more information:


The strip width can be anywhere from 1 inch to 2 inches wide.  Beginners usually prefer the narrower size.

The width does not have to be precise because the strips naturally roll up during the crochet process.  Wider strips = thicker mat.

There are 2 methods for cutting the bags into plastic yarn strips both are widely used - can be seen in these videos:


1: Single strip (easier to crochet, harder to cut) 

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqIZLoJXHas&feature=em-share_video_user  (Danielle in Orleans)



2. Double strip loops (harder to crochet, easier to cut) 

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm51o9VSHj0&feature=em-share_video_user  (Danielle in Orleans)



Video how to cut and chain   Milkbag Mats cut & chain.wmv


Video how to crochet  Milkbag Mats crochet.wmv  


Video crochet tips (eg how to keep edges even) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-XApr5zS88&feature=em-share_video_user


Video how to avoid knots   http://wsuc.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-to-avoid-knots-when-crocheting.html  


          Francais: http://www.radio-canada.ca/regions/ottawa/2010/11/30/007-matelas-sacs-de-lait-haiti.shtml 



          Ottawa citizen: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/With+just+crochet+hook+help+Haiti/3827643/story.html



Ottawa EMC http://www.emcbarrhaven.ca/20101125/news/Milk+bags+transformed+into+bed+mats+for+Haitians



Milk bag project info with link to Instructions & FAQ  http://www.nbbc.ca/index_milkbag.htm  


Ottawa woman teaches Mat Making in Mexico


Slideshow of a mat travelling from Ontario to a new home in Haiti  http://www.nwhcm.ca/oldsite/Gallery/MatPPT/MatPPT_1.htm


Missionaries taking mats to Haiti  http://www.nwhcm.ca/mats4haiti.htm


Gr 5 & 6 at St Mary Catholic School http://www.yourottawaregion.com/news/article/917534--milk-bag-mats-help-homeless-haitians


Gr 7 class in Stratford news article http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2468776  


Video of Montreal High school making mats   MVI_4257.AVI


Gr 7&8 school in Grimsby http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://media.mmgcommunity.topscms.com/images/e0/8f/e4f861be4670b2a99280e5ffa802.jpeg&imgrefurl=http://www.niagarathisweek.com/news/news/article/647452&usg=__i2Xvattnp_iluyYPBVOokr4FYjs=&h=267&w=400&sz=64&hl=en&start=16&itbs=1&tbnid=_FNwBUrQElTV0M:&tbnh=83&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmilk%2Bbag%2Bbed%2Bmats%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1


Article on Mat Making in Bradford   http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://bradford.gallery.siteseer.ca/cache/derivative/6/2/6200.dat&imgrefurl=http://www.bradfordtimes.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx%3Fe%3D2443788&usg=__bER-CytCdxDH1CUA6kbf1gCYSlA=&h=199&w=300&sz=19&hl=en&start=3&itbs=1&tbnid=5acnxkn-u8sxVM:&tbnh=77&tbnw=116&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dmilk%2Bbag%2Bbed%2Bmats%26hl%3Den%26gbv%3D2%26tbs%3Disch:1


Stories from a missionary who delivers mats to Haiti http://www.recorder.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=2807264 


Video on how to WEAVE a sleeping mat http://blip.tv/file/3303836 


Photo Gallery - if you have a photo of your mat or your group making mats, you can send it it to Admin.  Please note, this is the internet so send only what you want the world to see.


  The Tote bags are given out at the hospitals and clinics containing basic essential items.   Once the person leaves the hospital, the bags become multipurpose.  They are used as diaper bags, market bags, school bags, etc... 































2011- 2016 We shipped more than 5520 mats from Ottawa area! Mats ready to ship from Bells Corners United Church

Bed mats to Haiti  Nov 2010 = 22  (Barbara & Sheila)

Bed mats to Haiti  Dec 12, 2010 = 26  (Marsha)

Bed mats to Haiti  Dec 19, 2010 = 25 (Amber)

Bed mats to Haiti Jan 2011 = 27   (Graeme & Winnie)

Bed mats to Haiti  Feb 2011 = 43   (Dave)

Bed mats to Haiti  Mar 12, 2011 = 20 (Sandy)

Bed mats to Haiti  Mar 19, 2011 = 53  (Dan)

Bed mats to Tanzania Mar 29, 2011 = 42 (Renee)

Bed mats to Haiti  Apr 12, 2011 = 50 (George)

Bed mats to Haiti  Apr 24, 2011 = 11 (Susan's friend)

Bed mats to Haiti  Apr 25, 2011 = 40 (Cindy & Pat)

Bed mats to Haiti  May 20, 2011 = 22 (Alison & Dave)

Bed mats to Haiti  May 30 2011 = 71 (Harold Yule)

Bed mats to Haiti  Jun 24 2011 =  36  (Norah & Tom)

Bed mats to Haiti  Jun 25 2011 = 48 (Desna and Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to Haiti  Aug 2 2011 = 186 (Anne & Vic)

Bed mats to Haiti  Aug 27 2011 = 20 (Barbara Eade)

Bed mats to Haiti  Sept 9 2011 = 17 (Margaret & William)

Bed mats to Haiti  Oct 9 2011 = 23 (Judith)

Bed mats to Haiti  Nov 4 2011 = 61 (Judith)

Bed mats to Haiti Nov 18 2011 = 68 (Vicky)

Bed mats to Haiti Jan 4 2012 = 40 (Cassandra & helpful husband)                                                                         

Bed mats to Haiti Jan 21 2012 = 18 (Norah's cousin)

Bed mats to Haiti Feb 4 2012 = 26 (Tim)

Bed mats to Haiti Feb 9 2012 = 50 (Jean & Reg)

Bed mats to Haiti Mar 8 2012 = 150 (Joan & Brian Hicks)Friends of the Outaouais

Bed mats to Haiti Mar 28 2012 = 135 (Des Garvey)

Bed mats to Haiti Apr 21 2012 = 44 (Tom Thistle & friend)

Bed mats to Haiti Apr 22 2012 = 22 (Norah)

Bed mats to Haiti May 2, 2012 = 42 (Margaret & William) 

Bed mats to Haiti Jun 9, 2012 = 240 (James MacLaren)

Bed mats to Haiti Jun 27, 2012 = 112 (Jean & Reg Steele)

Bed mats to Haiti July 7, 2012 = 35 (Marion Rutledge)

Bed mats to Haiti July 9, 2012 = 19 (Pauline)

Bed mats to Haiti July 20, 2012 = 60 (Jean Newton)

Bed mats to Mexico Aug 20, 2012 = 5 (Nancy DeKelver)

Bed mats to CCFC Sept 29 2012 = 90 (Ian)

Bed mats to CCFC Oct 17, 2012 = 380 (Des Garvey)

Bed mats to CCFC Nov 2, 2012 = 40 (Desna & Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to CCFC Nov 15, 2012 = 23 (Jean Newton)

Bed mats to CCFC Dec, 2012 = 46 (Nancy Yule)

Bed mats to DeJong Transport Jan 23, 2012 = 200 (Lydia & Mike Van Dyke)

Bed mats to CCFC Feb 22, 2013 = 70 (Desna & Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to CCFC Apr 18, 2013 = 104 (Desna & Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to CCFC Apr 25, 2013 = 54 (Nancy Yule)

Bed mats to Haiti via NOW Aug 2013 = 20 (Des Garvey)

Bed mats to CCFC Sept 2013 = 103 (Desna & Vernon Sulway) 

Bed mats to CCFC Oct 2013 = 72 (Desna & Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to CCFC Oct 2013 = 150 (from Winchester group)

Bed mats to CCFC Nov 2013 = 91 (Desna & Vernon Sulway)

Bed mats to Nigeria Nov 2013 = 23 (Deborah Stevenson)

Bed mats to CCFC Dec 2013 = 461 (Barbara Eade)

Bed mats to CCFC Apr 2014 = 9 (Daphne's brother)

Bed mats to CCFC Apr 2014 = 30 (Leora Starkey & her brother)

Bed mats to CCFC Aug 2014 = 62 (Donna & Ted)

Bed mats to CCFC Aug 2014 = ~1000 (James & Rosella)

Bed mats to CCFC Nov 2014 = ~150 (Bill Buwalda)

Bed mats to CCFC Mar 2015 = ~400 (Leora Starkey & family)

Bed mats to CCFC May 2015 = ~300 (Anne & Vic Downey)

Bed mats to Haiti  May 2015 = ~120 (Gail Jerome)

Bed mats to CCFC May 2015 = 225 (Claudette Godin with help from Knights of Columbus)

Bed mats to CCFC Sept 2015 = 332 (Anne & Vic Downey)

Bed mats to CCFC Oct 2015 =         (Danielle Duval-Conway)

Bed mats to Haiti Jan 2016 =  30 (Gail & Musset Jerome)

Bed mats to CCFC Apr 2016 = 12 (Mr & Ms Sharma)

Bed mats to CCFC April 2016 = 42 (Mei & Lloyd Wun)

Bed mats to Haiti April 2016 = 10 (Gail & Musset Jerome)

Bed mats to CCFC April 2016 = 485 (Bill & Marg Buwalda)



Tote bags sent to Haiti = 512


Teddies in Bags sent to Haiti orphanages and Doctors without Borders - approx 942


I receive about 100 finished mats and totes per month.

If you know anyone travelling from Ottawa to Mississauga, Kleinburg or Lindsay willing to transport mats, please contact Admin 


Congratulations and many thanks to everyone !!!

A rough estimate for Ottawa Area shows that in from 2011 - 2016

over 180 000 hours of work donated to this cause  and over 2 500 000 milkbags saved from the landfill



Past Workshops   to help you find people in your area who already know how to make the mats

further info contact: Admin


Visitors since Jan 1, 2011  

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