How we use old prayer mats to make our baskets

One of the questions we get asked most frequently at Expedition Subsahara is what our baskets are made of. That’s an easy one. The coils are made using sweet grass and bound together with recycled plastic. Until recently, I hadn’t thought too much about the recycled plastic we use...

Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country. If you don’t know, Muslims pray five times per day, no matter where they are. People have plastic prayer mats to lay on the ground or floor while praying. They’re also used for social gatherings, which are frequent and outdoors. The colorful mats are cultural staples, and they come in all sizes — small enough to fit in your purse, and large enough for praying in a mosque. When the mats have reached the end of their useful life, they’re collected, cleaned, and melted into the bright and beautiful strips we use for our baskets. 

Recently, someone told me that she often thinks about how many prayers went into her baskets. Someone stood or kneeled on the mat and prayed every single day. At the core of humanity, we all pray for similar things: for our families to be healthy, that we can support our loved ones and pay our bills, for happiness, love and wellbeing. Even if the mat was only used for one year (they’re often used for many years!), can you imagine how many prayers a single mat would hold?  

Thinking about the thousands of prayers that were said on the mats before they were collected and turned into something new is such a beautiful thought. And then, the mats are given a new purpose in our baskets. They find homes with someone completely different, but they still hold positive, prayerful energy. 

Don’t you love it when a thought is so glorious and profound that it makes you think differently? Now, when I’m in my studio, all I can think about is being surrounded by a million prayers, and that’s a thought that can help you get through any day!