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News | Dec. 10, 2019

DLA employees helping the local homeless, one plastic bag at a time

By Leon Moore DLA Aviation Public Affairs

Members of the Business Process Support Directorate, Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Richmond, Virginia, found an eco-friendly way to rid their home kitchen and utility drawers of those small, plastic bags that seemingly accumulate after every trip to the grocery store or shopping mall.

According to the non-profit organization Plastic Oceans International, more than 300 million tons of plastic are produced annually, yet more than 90% of all plastic is not recycled. At least eight million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year—equal to a garbage truck per minute. Studies find plastic pollutes the air, water and entire food chain, threatening human health, wildlife and the planet.

While helping reduce the harmful effects these elements could potentially have on the environment was a consideration, no number or price tag can be placed on the humanitarian initiative the DLA Aviation employees supported in the process.

Instead of throwing their bags away, the employees donated roughly 700 bags to the First African Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia, as part of the Bags-to-Mats Program. Church members took the bags and crocheted them into sleeping mats to be donated to those in the area who have found themselves without a permanent place to lay their heads.

Gwen Beauford is a demand supply chain analyst in the Research, Review and Analysis Division within the Business Process Support Directorate. She said to make a mat out of plastic shopping bags requires between 500-700 bags and 10-18 hours of work. She said it can also take as long as two and a half months to make a mat if the crocheting only takes place on the weekend.   

Being eco-conscious is nothing new to Defense Supply Center Richmond employees.

According to Jimmy Parrish, chief, Environmental Division, DLA Installation Management Richmond, those working on Defense Supply Center Richmond have supported a very aggressive recycling program for years. He said last year alone, DSCR employees kept more than 168,780 pounds of white paper and 28,000 pounds of cardboard from taking up space in a landfill.