Girl Scout Junior Troop 33018 displaying each girl’s sleeping mat she crocheted for the homeless.

By Gwen Rollings

Girl Scout Junior Troop 33018 takes seriously the goals of helping people, making the world a better place and using resources wisely. They achieved all these objectives and also earned their Girl Scout Bronze Award by working on a project to bring awareness regarding single-use plastics.

Most people don’t think much about single-use plastics. Plastic bags make short order of carrying in grocery, novelty or department store items into our homes and then are overwhelmingly found stuffed in closets or taking up space in trash cans waiting to take their place in a landfill.

Yet the plastic bags don’t make short order of disappearing. They have a longevity of from 800 to 1,000 years, and that’s a long time mounding up in landfills and polluting the earth.

Troop Leader Leesa Polley and her fifth grade Girl Scouts decided they wanted to complete a project that would demonstrate how single-use plastics could be used more wisely and make the world a better place.

Polley said of her troop, “They all wanted to help save the planet, the sea turtles and have a passion for recycling. The girls came up with a plan to teach others about single-use plastics by showing different ways you can repurpose what we have.”

The plan was to turn plastic bags into beds for the homeless.

They wanted to do this because, as Girl Scout Mila said, “I knew that the mats we made could possibly save a life by giving the homeless something warm to sleep on through a cold night.”

Shea wanted to make the mats to help the community.

Sierra added, “We wanted to save plastic bags and recycle them.”

Each girl collected 500 plastic bags, cut the bags, made plarn (plastic yarn) and learned how to crochet with the assistance of an experienced adult throughout the crocheting process. Each girl’s contribution was a 20-hour effort.

Ava, Kalani and Jacqueline agreed, “We all learned how to crochet, help one another and work together.”

Reymoni concluded, “I learned that it is nice to help people in need.”

Polley said the 2 ½ ft. x 6 ft. sleeping mats are donated to a Tampa area church which has a homeless outreach program. Although it was a six-month project, the results were well worth it.

Girl Scout Jianna summed up the takeaway lesson, “Helping people makes the world a better place.”