Grade 11 student Hannah Vermeij is passionate about helping others and saving the environment. She demonstrates these passions both in school and in her community, with her latest initiative bringing the school and the local community closer together, as she is involving Elmwood students in the production of this project. Hannah has combined her passion for environmentalism with her determination to help others to devise a sustainable way to provide sleeping materials to homeless youth. She has begun to create plastic sleeping mats, woven out of recycled plastic milk bags, to be used to protect Ottawa's homeless youth from the elements. She writes about her inspiration for this project and her process below. If you would like to help Hannah with this initiative, please reach out to her for more information. 

"I have always been interested in finding ways to repurpose materials and prevent them from ultimately harming the environment. As a member of the Ottawa Youth Engagement Committee, I am also interested in creating meaningful change in the community. So last summer I began an effort to combine both of these passions. I started making sleeping mats out of plastic milk bags which will be given to homeless youth in Ottawa through the Youth Services Bureau. The mats are made by cutting each plastic bag into segments and weaving them together on a frame that was created by a local high school’s shop class. The mats are a thick, waterproof barrier from the ground which provides more warmth and comfort for those sleeping on them. 

So, how to make more mats? This fall the Middle School Environmental Council helped greatly with one of the steps in the construction of the mats by cutting the milk bags into strips. I also hope to incorporate Elmwood more within the coming months. For the time being, as each mat takes 500 bags to make there is going to be a house competition for the collection of milk bags (the colourful outer bags only). There will be boxes in the school for each house so please just take a moment to collect these bags because they can make a huge impact."