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Stories From Our Students: Meet Kate

The Bags to Beds Project is one of the Bennion Center’s newest projects. Kaitlin McLean, a University of Utah student majoring in biomedical physics and psychology, created this project. Last year, Kaitlin learned how to turn plastic bags into yarn, or “plarn,” and she decided to use this new skill set to create beds for the Salt Lake City homeless population that is forced to sleep outside during the winter.

Kaitlin’s Bags to Beds Project “aims to reduce waste and increase awareness of social issues while bringing the community together.” By combining both of the issues of environmental sustainability and homelessness, this project will hopefully have a large positive impact on the community.

To get involved with this project, any student can help. By either collecting plastic bags, turning the bags into plarn, or crocheting plarn into beds for the homeless, there are many opportunities for student involvement. Students can either come into the Bennion Center individually to learn how to create plarn or how to crochet, or groups can schedule times to learn about the project together. Groups can either contact any Bennion Center staff member or Katilin at It only takes 10 minutes to learn, students can crochet plarn in their free time, and once you have the skills, you can easily teach your friends how to contribute to this project.

To make one bed, it will take about 300-400 plastic bags once they have been turned into plarn. The goal for this project is to make 100 or more beds before next November. Once around 100 beds have been made, they will all be donated at once to local community partners and organizations that help homeless populations.

Overall, the Bags to Beds Project is an innovative and necessary project to simultaneously help improve issues of sustainability and homelessness in the Salt Lake Valley.

Below: Kaitlin McLean (R) teaches student athlete Mesa Weidle how to crochet plastic bags into a sleeping mat.)  

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Last Updated: 6/11/19