Eco-Fair 2012 was fun — and busy!

There were dozens of vendors’ tables at the Eco-Fair yesterday … but I never had a chance to go around and see many — too busy with the milkbags!

The Milkbags into Bedmats display took up a whole corner of the room, and had lots of bags and mats on display, hanging from chairs and room dividers, which served as a backdrop.

Milkbags to Bedmats display at Eco-Fair 2012

The 3-panel poster board was also there, updated with new info about where the mats and bags now go.* Answers to many questions people had can be found on it — we just need to add a text about the history of this whole project to make it complete!

*Bureaucratic hassles in Haiti have made it necessary to redirect mats and bags to the Canadian Food For Children (CFFC) organisation for now. Two shipments have already been taken to Toronto, the latest just this past Wednesday (the 17th) with 380 mats!

380 mats at Bell’s Corners United Church, just before shipment

There was a steady stream of adults and children all day, ranging from those who were completely unaware of the project and surprised at what you can make with milkbags, to people who knew this step or that and wanted to learn more.

Many people are already aware of  it, even if only about the front end: collecting bags and taking them somewhere, often their child’s school. For them, the surprise was seeing what happened to those plastic bags when they became mats and shoulder bags.

Another surprise for many was that plastic bags (not just the milkbags) can be recycled at local grocery stores. So this was good information to pass along — esp. as city garbage collection will be changing soon.

I spent the day showing all the stages: flattening bags, cutting them into strips, making a chain to start a sitting mat, how to start crocheting, and — talking a lot!. Some people stopped to get tips — seeing is so much easier than reading — such aspects as keeping the stitches loose (for mats), lapping the ends rather than making knots when joining strips, playing with colour to make things more interesting, how to place markers for the straps when making the shoulder bags (this last one showed up a lapse in my bag-instructions-3— now fixed).

A number of children stopped by — some stayed to learn the whole process, from flattening to crocheting — wow1 — while another began working on my sitting mat in progress and has taken it home to finish — another wow!

All in all, a busy and rewarding day, with many words of encouragement and support. And good stories to bring back to the student milkbag group at school!

I’d like to say thank you to Barbara Eade, one of the main organisers of the Fair, and also to the church members who prepared a lovely lunch — delicious! Thank you, too, to the fellow from `Kitchen Cones’, who happily offered to fold bags into sets of 25 — very kind! And a special thank you to Janet, who came in from Aylmer and stayed for much of the afternoon — nice to spend some time with another teacher of this very worthwhile activity.

… now to finish off the handles on another bag … !

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