Whole is greater than sum

Published 9:16 pm Thursday, May 10, 2018

With apologies to Aristotle, a crocheting operation under way at King’s Fork Middle School truly is greater than the sum of its parts.

The project involves collecting plastic bags and using them to make “plarn,” or plastic bag yarn. The plastic yard is then crocheted into sleeping mats for the homeless population.

Sarah Catlett, the lead guidance counselor at the school, started the project when she was in need of something to do. Someone told her about Operation Bed Roll, and she got some of her students involved, as well.


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It takes 500 to 700 plastic bags to make each bed roll. There is a goal of making 100 bed rolls by this winter, which would equal 50,000 to 70,000 plastic bags that didn’t go into a landfill, become litter or get stuffed into a closet or cupboard to take up space.

Americans use about 100 billion plastic bags a year, taking 12 million barrels of oil to manufacture, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. That’s about 1,500 per family on average. Only 1 percent of those are returned for recycling; the rest end up in landfills or as litter, harming wildlife that ingest them or get tangled in them.

On the other end of the spectrum of this project is the homeless population in Suffolk, which is often invisible but is definitely present. The Operation Bed Roll project aims to make 100 of the mats for the Coalition Against Poverty in Suffolk’s Night Stay Program, which takes place during winter.

Then there are the students who are getting involved and helping others. They can say that they helped clean up the environment and aid the homeless before they could even drive.

So to sum up the project, students are learning a new skill and a very valuable lesson about helping others; plastic bags are not only being kept out of the landfill but also being put to good use; and homeless people are being comforted with a sleeping mat and the knowledge that someone cared.

We call that a pretty good “whole.”