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Detroit nonprofit using chip bags to further talks of sustainability

Detroit nonprofit using chip bags to further discussion of sustainability
Detroit nonprofit using chip bags to further discussion of sustainability 03:06

DETROIT, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - Often, when you finish a bag of chips, you think to just get rid of the bag. However, a nonprofit in Detroit is taking empty chip bags and doing much more than just throwing them away.

"Chip Bag Project started off as a love story for me to Detroit," said Eradajere Oleita.

An advocate for sustainability and climate change, Oleita put purpose behind passion and started the Chip Bag Project in 2020.

Chip Bag Project

"I ran across a woman who was making chip packets into blankets that she was using for other purposes, and I was like, hmm, I can necessarily do that, but I know I can make it into a sleeping bag, and it kind of just happened overnight," she stated.

Oleita started collecting empty chip bags to create sleeping bags for homeless or displaced individuals in the city.

"If you've ever looked at chip bag material, it has this mylar reflective metal service. It's the same thing as an emergency blanket, and when you put an emergency blanket on, it mimics and reflects your own body heat. So, that's what we do with our sleeping bags. When you get inside of it, no matter how warm or cold you are, what the sleeping bag is going to do is insulate you and then also mimic your body heat, kind of like creating a warm incubator for yourself," said Oleita.

Oleita's nonprofit, Chippin In, partnered with local organizations to spread resources even further by also making warming kits to pass out.

"We had hats, had warmers, socks, all things that the mutual aid said they'd need in those kits, and we created them and also partnered with them to give them sleeping bags. In the first year, we were able to give out 1,000 warming kits, the second year, we gave out 15,000," Oleita said.

Since the beginning, the project has taken off with donations of chip bags pouring in.

"We have 2.5 million pounds of foil now. When I started this project, it was supposed to be 60,000 bags individually collected. Within the first month, we were more than 60,000 pounds collected. Within our first year, more than a million pounds; now we're in year three at 2.5 million, and we've actually stopped collection because we noticed people want to give us chip bags, and a lot of it, and it's not just coming from one place, it's coming from the entire world. We get as far as Singapore, Australia and Africa," said Oleita.

A local initiative, now taken worldwide.

Chip Bag Project

"This is a global conversation, not just a Detroit conversation, and really helping us move the needle forward when it comes to climate change and really getting people to take it seriously," she said.

Beginning in October, the nonprofit is opening a branch in Nigeria to further expand conversations about climate change.

The group is also going on a sustainability tour to different countries in Africa and Asia that same month.

If you'd like to volunteer or get involved with the organization, you can contact the group on social media.

A fashion show is also being held by Chippin In at Eastern Market next month.

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