Detroit Activist Makes Sleeping Bags for Homeless People

In a move to bridge sustainability and social justice, Eradajere Oleita is asking people to eat their favorite chips and donate the empty bag. The 25-year-old Detroit resident and environmental activist is making sleeping bags for homeless people in Detroit…using recycled snack bags.

Calling it The Chip Bag Project, Oleita tells CNN, “The process is simple: collect bags, cut them open, iron them and then line with plastic.” Oleita got the idea from a video she found of a woman in England making blankets and sleeping bags from recycled chip bags. The foil lined bags provide insulation in addition to being waterproof and lightweight, much like an emergency blanket. When sealed together and lined with foam, the creation has the potential to make a big difference for someone living outside during Michigan’s frigid winters.

In a statement to Hour Detroit, Oleita says “I’ve just been doing a lot of work around the city of Detroit, trying to get more people to talk about the connections between environmental justice and social justice, and really pushing on the topic of environmental racism. And that’s really why I wanted to do [The Chip Bag Project].”

Community participation is key, as it takes about 150 chip bags to make a single person sleeping bag, and about 320 chip bags to make a two-person sleeping bag. The goal is to make at least 60 sleeping bags, which would take approximately 10,000 recycled bags. To encourage community engagement, The Chip Bag Project launched a website and Instagram page, posting instructions, donation information, and “chip-eating” events.

“I want people to think about these things and for our products to come full circle. I have never been shy of humanitarian work because firstly I am…a human,” Oleita tells CNN.

There are many ways to support The Chip Bag Project, and you don’t have to live in Detroit to get involved. The grass roots group has created a network for people who want to start local chapters in their hometowns, stating that they understand that there are more communities outside of Detroit that are in need. Joining the network is simple and provides a reliable platform for preserving the integrity of the Project. It ensures that funds and instructional kits are not misused for personal gain or otherwise.

In combining her concerns about the environment and passion for humanitarian work, Oleita has found a way to bring communities together through helping other people. And it can be as simple as throwing your empty chip bag in the mail or donation box, rather than in the trash.