Archive for the ‘recycling milkbags’ Category

Donating milkbags

For those who want to collect and donate milkbags, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The bags will be touched and used by sorters, crocheters and weavers, and eventually slept on — do NOT `donate’ dirty, stinky bags, or bags with dried-up milk on them. Donations are NOT garbage — they are raw materials that will go through many hands before the finished mat or shoulder bag will be used by someone in need.
  • And since I’ve mentioned `stinky’ … keep in mind that plastic will absorb odours: from contact with other stinky bags as well as from airborne odours (from smoking or cooking). The storage tips below all focus on minimizing the space taken up by bags, so one offending bag can affect the entire collection — which then has to go into plastic bag recycling. Granted, that still avoids dumping plastic bags into the landfill — but what a waste of raw material, all because of one or two bags `infecting’ all the others.
  • Turn the bag inside out and hold it under the tap so the water runs all around and down the outside. Let it dry upside down until totally dry — a damp bag, folded, quickly acquires an odour.
  • Rejected bags can still be kept out of the landfill — there are grocery stores that have plastic recycling bins, especially where your municipality doesn’t include plastic bags in its recycling program.
  • Storing bags by stuffing them into a milkbag or other plastic bag is easy to do … but oh-so-wasteful in terms of storage space 🙂 Take the time to flatten the bag, fold in half, and then slide into another milkbag. You can get 30-40 milkbags into one bag — and it’s easy to stand up, like a file folder, taking up a lot less space.
  • Another storage option is put the bags, unfolded, into a box that allows you to lay them flat.
  • My favourite storage method: milkbags with folded-in-half bags (see above), stacked vertically in a photocopy paper box — the box is just the right width to keep adding bagged bags … you can get up to 800 or more, just by pushing the bags against one another, removing the air. We used to put just 24 bags into a milkbag — but many more can go in. A tip: stand the box on one of its short ends, add the filled bags, pushing down as each one’s added. Tip the box back upright.
  • One of my least favourite storage methods? Milkbags folded up into teeny-tiny triangles — not only does it take massive amounts of time to do each bag, but at our end (the sorters, crocheters, weavers) , even more gobs of time undoing every single one of them. Please don’t do this 🙂  I’ve heard the explanation that it’s to avoid having young children find the plastic bag but my response is: then keep the bags out of reach of children, just like anything else that has the potential for danger.
  • When donating your collection of bags, keep in mind that not everyone is as strong as you are! Spread the weight across a few boxes or bags, in consideration of those of us who aren’t what we used to be 🙂

Do you have storage tips to add? Send them in!

When a milkbag project doesn’t work out …

Sometimes we make a bag or mat, either crochet’d or woven, and … well … it just didn’t work out. The rows were too tight or too loose, the edges were wandering all over the place … or we just lost interest and didn’t finish it or don’t want to try and salvage it.

Whatever the reason, we don’t want to take it to a drop-off point and pass it along — we shouldn’t pretend that “it’s good enough” or that “it doesn’t matter” or “nobody will notice”.

So — put the sad little mistake into a milkbag or grocery bag or garbage bag (all of which are also plastic) and just chuck it into the plastic bag recycle bin at your local Metro or Value Village or other store that has such a bin. Just as we’re keeping milkbags out of the landfills by making mats and bags, so too should our mistakes also stay out of landfills.

And then, when you’re in a better frame of mind, maybe start up again, figuring out how to avoid the boo-boo, and end up with a lovely finished milkbag item, one that you’d like to keep for yourself, it’s that good! The person who eventually receives it will notice — and use the mat or bag for a long time.

What to do with my milkbags?

This question has come up a few times recently. I’m in Barrhaven, so I can only speak about our area. Milkbag supplies seem to ebb and flow … and right now, we’ve got overflow! More than enough for our groups and local schools.

However, that’s little help to people who have been collecting and don’t want milkbags to go into the landfill. So I’ve done a little searching (aka googling 🙂 ), and found the following links for the Ottawa area:

That’s right — that last entry is from the City of Ottawa itself … even though the city does not allow plastic bags in their recycling blue box. Check out the list — and you’ll see that foremost of all are Metro grocery stores.

Here in Barrhaven, our Metro at Strandherd/Woodroffe has a large blue bin in the front area where the grocery carts are. Plastic bags are not just grocery bags and milkbags; as long as it’s stretchy (but not the cling-film/saran wrap stuff), it’s a plastic bag. So — bags for breads and buns, bags for veggies and fruit, the plastic wrapper around juice box packs and other mass-quantity items, cleaned ziploc deli bags, …

Put an empty plastic bag on your kitchen counter and you’ll be amazed at what’s in it by the end of a week!

As I said at the start, the supply of milkbags (at least for us) ebbs and flows. At some point, we’ll have gone through our supplies and will once again put out a call for bags. But for now, we have more than enough here.

ON THE OTHER HAND: If you or your group need bags, why not post a comment below, with your contact info. That way, those with bags can get in touch with you. Our goal, no matter what our supply status, is to ensure that these marvellous milkbag resources don’t go into the landfill. Sharing our information is the best way to match supply and demand.

All gone …

Well, it took more than a few weeks to finally pick up all the boxes of new milkbags from Mr McLaren’s. But it’s done. For the Ottawa area, that means we have a lot of supplies available for more than just our Barrhaven group. Lots more! Again, we thank Mr McLaren for the use of his trailer over the past half year, for his having driven 450 to 500 mats and bags down to the CFFC’s Mississauga warehouse, for bringing back 71 boxes, and for his patience while we were finding homes for those boxes. And thanks also go to the many people who drove out over the Christmas holidays, not always on the bright sunny days (!), to then store them in their basements.

Unlike our huge windfall of new bags from ProSoya last July, where each full box contained 2,400 the same bag type (colour, style), these boxes are like Christmas surprises. Not all boxes have the same type of bundles, not all bundles are full (400 bags), and they’re from a variety of manufacturers: Beatrice, Dairyland, Natrel, Neilson, Northumberland, Quebon, Sealtest … a really nice mix.

For weavers, here’s a chance to try out different colour combinations and techniques for making stripes … plaids … is it even possible to weave vertical strips?!  I’d love to post pictures of what you come up with!

For supplies, contact me directly: .

No pillows with milkbag stuffing, please

This is a follow-up to a comment about pillows, posted on 1 August, 2016, where I wrote that “… the milkbag snippet stuffing will eventually get out of the cloth pillows (a seam breaks, the cloth rots, … ) and cause a great mess”.

Since that time, I’ve gotten in touch with local (Ottawa) charities, as well as the Humane Society — I’m afraid no-one wants to take these pillows, with their snippet stuffing. The Humane Society, I can understand — if a pillow were to burst, the plastic would be ingested, perhaps proving fatal.

I have about half a dozen on hand, so I’ll open them, remove the milkbag snippets, and then add them to unfilled pillow cases that were made by one of our local volunteers from her stash of material. She made a couple hundred at least, when we were all very enthusiastic about the idea. And while it’s disheartening to know all that time and energy (and supplies) have gone to naught, I’m still hopeful that the cases themselves can be passed on to Value Village or some other place, for someone to stuff with more traditional materials.

There are loads of sites that come up in response to googling the words

pillow stuffing types

Here’s just one:

Note, however, that microbeads have come under scrutiny recently. I like the flaxseed and millet options, further down on the page. I wonder if rice might also work …

In any event, I guess this is sort of like an `official’ announcement (not that I have any standing at all as an official person!) that pillows made with milkbag snippet stuffings are not being accepted, so please don’t make any more.




How do you keep 300,000 milkbags out of the landfill?

This saga began 5 July, with a comment posted to my 11 May post. A company wanted to donate 300,000 milkbags — otherwise, 125 boxes (2,400 bags/box) would be sent to the landfill.

And the saga ended earlier today, with all of those boxes having been picked up by milkbag crocheters and weavers in the Ottawa area — and one from Toronto, who was just visiting … !

A huge thank-you goes out to ProSoya for considering this alternative to the landfill. And a huge thank-you to everyone who heard about the bags, drove out to Orleans, and took home a box or two (… or 35!), each one weighing about 38.5 lbs. You have all responded hugely, positively, graciously, and very, very generously.

So the answer to that question is — you spread the word to as many groups as you can, and ask each in turn to spread the word even further. And in the end, you realise that you’ve connected with an awful lot of really nice people.

Thank you, every one.

… now, if we could just find long-term storage and transportation solutions for all the marvellous mats and bags made from milkbags such as these …

You do realise that I’m fishing here for some really big-hearted and generous offers, eh … 🙂

Eco-Fair/Rock the World with Kindness

This coming Saturday, 23 April 2016, will see the annual Eco-Fair/Rock the World with Kindness event at the Bell’s Corners United Church. Many, many displays and demos will be on site, including (of course 🙂 ) one for crocheting and weaving mats from milkbags. A few weaving frames (half-height; that is, you make two mats and then lash them together) will be available for sale (20.00); frames are made by the Gr.12 Fine Woodworking students at Longfields-Davidson Heights Secondary School in Barrhaven.

Bring your milkbags — but please, NOT all scrunched up in a garbage bag! Please take the time to prepare them for the volunteers who then turn the milkbags into useful mats and bags. First, though, please take all the torn and smelly bags to the Metro grocery store — many of them have a plastic bag recycle bin in the front foyer (the one in Barrhaven does). We do NOT want to crochet or weave with those. What we DO want is nice clean bags to work with — so we can make nice clean mats and bags that people less fortunate that us will want to sleep on and use. A handy and economic way to store bags can be found in this handout: milkbag-prep-flatten-and-store.

One change to note: this year we CANNOT accept finished mats. There is simply no place to store them until they can be delivered to Canadian Food for Children in Mississauga. Nevertheless, we are working on a one-day drop-off for mats and bags in the Ottawa area. News will be posted as soon as details of a time and location are confirmed. So again, please do NOT bring your finished mats and bags to the 23 April event at the church.

Barrhaven milkbag crochet group

For the past several years, a group of us have been meeting in Barrhaven (Ottawa) to crochet milkbags into sitting and sleeping mats, as well as shoulder bags. Last fall we were offered meeting space at the Court at Barrhaven seniors residence. We meet on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of each month, from 1 to 3pm. Come and join us — to learn how to crochet with milkbags or to bring your work and be with like-mind people for a couple of hours.

Please note: this is a crochet group only and not a location for dropping off milkbags. Milkbags (and all other plastic bags, for that matter) can be dropped off for plastic recycling at the local Metro store (large blue bin in the front entry, by the grocery carts). Or you could inquire at local schools to see if they accept donations.

There will be a one-time drop-off for milkbags on 23 April, 2016, at the Bell’s Corners United Church, which is hosting this year’s Eco-Kindness Fair (iCare2016 poster print).

19 April 2016: UPDATE: Note that the 23 April event will accept milkbags but NOT finished crochet’d milkbag mats — there is no room this year to store them. Please stay tuned for news on a future drop-off time and location for the Ottawa area.

Moving into summer …

Well … once all the rain stops and our gardens become true green jungles … 🙂

Yeah! It’s almost summer! This is when crocheting milkbags easily takes a second seat to all kinds of other activities, so things usually slow down. On the other hand, if you’ve got children, you’re facing two months of summer holidays and may need to crochet something … ANYthing … just to get away from the `Mama! Mama!’ stuff … Either way, there will be more sleeping and sitting mats made, along with a few shoulder bags, by the time September rolls around again.

For us in Eastern Ontario, most of our crochet work is transported down by volunteers to Mississauga, where Canadian Food for Children (CFFC) has their massive warehouse. Every so often we hear about where shipments have been going; here’s a recent list (first 3 months of 2014):


I know it’s fuzzy but you get the idea — CFFC is sending hundreds of thousands of pounds of goods to many different countries. And they tell us that when someone brings the crocheted milkbag bags and mats, they’re greeted with great enthusiasm and delight. So, everything you do is very very appreciated — and shipped out very very quickly, sometimes directly from the vehicle into the next available shipping container. The CFFC website has a map and their hours of operation, if you ever want to see it all in person.

Locally, here in Barrhaven, the 2nd month of the month at the Metro (our `MMM’) continues. We now have sufficient milkbag supplies to last us the whole summer and so we are now asking that people take their milkbags directly to their local Metro’s plastic bag recycle bin. We can’t crochet them all! But that’s no reason to stop collecting milkbags! No milkbag needs to end up in a landfill. Instead of being crocheted, the recycled bags are shipped to facilities which prepare them for use in other plastic products — plastic lumber and other items made of recycled/reprocessed plastic.

So, enjoy the summer, keep crocheting those milkbags — and recycle the rest!

13 Jan. 2014 at the Metro

Happy New Year, everyone — hope you’re all staying warm!

Our January milkbag session will be on the 13th, from 1 to 3pm, at the Metro here in Barrhaven (corner of Woodroffe and Strandherd). We have the bags — you just bring a crochet hook (8mm or 9mm) and we’ll show you the rest.

The Dec. meeting was a great success — at least 10 of us there — so come out and join in. We meet on the 2nd Monday of every month in the Metro’s cafe. And if you just want to get rid of your milkbags, there’s a great big plastic bag recycle bin in the front entrance. Either way, you can keep all plastic bags out of the landfills … but crocheting is a lot more fun 🙂

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