Neighbor stories

From trash to treasure: How a group of Houston neighbors are turning plastic bags into mats for the homeless

Written by Nick Brinkerhoff

We are all for neighbors coming together and helping those in need in their communities. Oak Forest, TX neighbor Robin is doing just that by turning other’s trash into a reborn treasure.

Robin is a member of the Trinity Lutheran Church in Houston and participates in the church’s women’s group, which gathers to help programs and initiatives that contribute to making their community better. One of the projects they are working on is making “plarn” mats. Plarn (plastic yarn) is made by cutting up recycled plastic bags that can then be used as a string for crocheting. The plarn mats are then distributed to homeless members of the community.


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Robin with one of her completed plarn mats

When they started to run low on plastic bags to crochet, Robin turned to Nextdoor to see if any of her neighbors had any laying around that they could use. The response was tremendous, with over 130 responses and “Thanks” on one of her posts! In fact, neighbors have continued to drop bags off at Robin’s porch weeks after her original post. Robin and the other volunteers are now able to continue making mats for the homeless in the area throughout the year. Last Christmas, the group gave out more than 20 mats.

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One of Robin’s posts on Nextdoor about the mats

Additionally, the Women’s Club work on quilts that they give to community members who are battling cancer. If you have plastic bags or are interested in learning more about the Women’s Club at Trinity Lutheran Church, you can give them a call at (713) 224-0684.


  • This is awesome! It is so cool that Robin leveraged the Nextdoor community to generate the resources necessary to build gear for the homeless.

  • Does anyone know how I could get involved in this? I love to crochet and the idea of doing it to help such an awesome cause is even better.

  • What a fantastic idea! And bless your hearts for taking the time to take care of our folks that can really use the warmth and support of other mankind. Keep up the good work. Thank you. Karin Stephansky

  • Is there a way to get the pattern to make these? I would love to make them for my community.

  • I have a friend whose friend is doing this in the Kansas City metro. area. I told her she should just go to Walmart as well and ask if she can have their plastic bags that are collected in those big bins in the front of the store.

    • Where can I donate 2 crocheted plastic bag mats in Upland, CA? They are 4 feet by 8 feet.

      Lynda Barr
      (909) 969-3916

  • We have a TABITHA’s ANGELS ministry at our church and have recently completed and distributed 112 plarn bedrolls to homeless and disabled veterans facilities. Our church is Holly Springs United Methodist Church in Holly Springs, NC. What a blessing to be a part of this wonderful ministry!!

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