How one company is transforming Canada’s famous milk bags

One Ontario resident has found a way to take traditional bags of milk and turn them into something you would never think of — mattresses.

Angela Kesthely gathered a group of volunteers to help reduce plastic waste by founding MILKBAGSunlimited in 2008. They actually weave milk bags together on a large wooden frame to form thick long lasting mattresses. And every mattress requires at least 400 milk bags.

"We collect bags from people's homes. So we dry them out inside and flatten them, they get put in a photocopy paper box and all those bags get processed," Kesthely told Yahoo Canada.

Together, the group has made 54,000 mattresses which have been distributed to those in need in Ontario and around the world. The group has also sent milk bag mattresses to Poland to help refugees from Ukraine.

Kesthely believes these are just small steps towards dealing with the world’s plastic and homelessness problems.

Video Transcript


- I was so excited that I started to tell the friends of mine, who then built a frame, and then teachers found out about it, and they started doing it in the schools, and it just exploded.

So they either bring the mats to me or they take them directly to a place in Mississauga called Canadian Food for Children. So the milk bag mats leave here as packaging material, because they go in between boxes, and bicycles, and things, and they act as packaging material. And then when they get to the country, they're given away for people to sleep on.

They could be misprints. They could have a coupon on the back that's expired. They could have too much static between the box. These bags would have all ended up being garbage, but they're not garbage to me.

I make handbags out of them. I don't ask for money for this project. I have expenses, though, when it comes to, let's say I need to ship milk bags from the warehouse where they're stored to my place. So we sell the handbags, and that money I keep for that purpose.

My vision is just-- we just keep using these up because at least we're making a product instead of them just being in the landfill. As North Americans, we have a lot of things in our homes. And we don't realize how little other people have. So if we can provide them with something to sleep on, I'm happy.