Operation Bed Roll: Conserve, Crochet, Care
Operation Bed Roll is a collaboration between Greensboro’s Field Operations and Police departments to keep non-recyclable materials out of our landfills – and help some of our neediest residents have a safe place to sleep.
Operation Bed Roll aims to transform thousands of plastic grocery bags into “plarn,” or plastic bag yarn used to create crocheted sleeping mats that provide an insulated barrier for those who sleep on the ground. Greensboro Recycling Educator Tori Carle trains residents how to make the plarn and Greensboro police officers will distribute the mats to the homeless throughout the winter. The Interactive Resource Center, a non-profit that helps people experiencing homelessness, helped us set a goal of 200 bed rolls per winter.
Operation Bed Roll collected 211 plarn bed rolls during our first year.
Why We’re Doing It
Plastic bags like the kind you get when you buy groceries or other items cannot be recycled via the City’s residential recycling program.
Plastic bags that are put into residential recycling bins cause daily disruptions at the City’s Municipal Recycling Facility, getting caught in the sorting machinery.
Creating plarn is a creative way to reuse those plastic bags. Plarn can be used to knit or crochet a variety of items. Operation Bed Roll allows residents to use their craft skills to make bed rolls so these plastic bags can become something useful to the community.
How To Help
The City is now seeking crocheters to take on this project. It’s an ideal craft project for church, school groups, or individuals. Here’s everything you need to know to participate.
Spread the Word
We need lots of people to help make plarn and crochet (meet some of our partners in plarn here.) If you are not crafty, no worries. Help us make plarn; it's really easy. You can also be a big help by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Search @GSOGoesGreen and share with your friends.
Learn to Make Plarn
It takes between 500-700 plastic bags to create a bed roll. Field Operations hosts free plarn workshops to teach residents how to create the source material for this project. Check one out:
- Saturdays at 10 am, Gate City Yarns, 231 S. Elm St.
- Thursdays at 6 pm, McGirt-Horton Library, 2501 Phillips Ave
- June 22, 29
- July 6, 13, 20, 27
- August 3, 10
Train the Trainer Workshops
The following summer and fall workshops will focus on teaching you to teach others how to make plarn and participate in Operation Bed Roll.
- Wednesday, June 28, 6 pm, Glenn McNairy Library, 4860 Lake Jeanette Rd.
- Tuesday, July 18, 6 pm, Central Library, 219 N. Church St.
- Wednesday, July 26, 6 pm, Hemphill Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd.
- Wednesday, August 2, 4 pm, Benjamin Library, 1530 Benjamin Pkwy.
- Saturday, August 5, 10 am, Vance Chavis Library, 900 S. Benbow St.
- Thursday, August 15, 2 pm, Benjamin Library, 1530 Benjamin Pkwy.
- Thursday, August 24, 6 pm, Glenwood Library, 1901 W. Florida St.
- Saturday, September 9, 2 pm, Glenn McNairy Library, 4869 Lake Jeanette Rd.
- Tuesday, September 12, 10 am, Guilford College Methodist Church, 1205 Fleming Rd.
- Saturday, September 16, 2 pm, Center City Park, 200 N. Elm St.
- Thursday, September 21, 6 pm, Glenwood Library, 1901 W. Florida St.
- Wednesday, September 27, 6 pm, Hemphill Library, 2301 W. Vandalia Rd.
Not able to attend? Schedule a workshop for your own organization or group of friends by e-mailing us. **Please note, private workshops will only be held for 40 or more participants.** Or read our guide on how to run your own Operation Bed Roll program.
What to Bring
You do not need all 500-700 plastic bags to learn to make plarn, just a few to get started. Make sure to ask your neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends to help collect bags. Here is what you need to bring to workshops (please note, some extras may be available, but are not guaranteed):
- 10 or more plastic bags
- Scissors or a rotary cutter and mat
- Q-sized crochet hook (16 mm)
If you do not have time to attend a workshop,
visit our DIY resource page for instructional videos and other details or watch this video of Tori Carle walking you through the project.
Let us Know You Want to Help
When You are Finished
We would love to track who is working on a bed roll. Sign up here to tell us how many bed rolls you are making and receive more information about the project.
Drop off your completed Bed Roll at one of these locations:
- Reconsidered Goods, 2805 Patterson St., from 10 am to 5 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays and 12-5 pm Sundays
- The Washington Street entrance of the Melvin Municipal Office Building, 300 W. Washington St., from 8 am to 5 pm weekdays.
Additional locations will be added during the fall.
Need more information about Operation Bed Roll? Visit our page of Frequently Asked Questions, or contact Tori Carle at 336-373-2053.