How GM's Converting the Chevy Malibu, Buick Verano into Coats for the Homeless

By Joel Arellano | September 11, 2012
Environmentalists constantly harangue how vehicles are damaging the environment. They apparently dismiss the fact that cars are some of the most recycled products on the planet, and automakers are actually working on a 100-percent recyclable vehicle. Veronika Scott hasn't forgotten. Founder of the Detroit-based Empowerment Plan, Scott teamed up with General Motors to develop a self-heating, waterproof coat that also doubles as a sleeping bag. Recipients are homeless people centered around Detroit. According to EP, there are over 20,000 homeless who have to endure the Michigan winters every year. For 2012, GM donated 2,000 yards of Sonozorb. This is the sound-deadening material used in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Verano sedans. Says Scott, "Among other challenges--for design to project funding--the insulation is the largest expense in the coats' production. With GM's help and recommendations, I was able to think about materials in a different way and incorporate a sustainable, durable and practical product from GDC, Inc. that benefits struggling community members." GDC is the supplier of Sonozorb. After providing automakers with the material, it takes leftover scraps and preps them for projects like Scott's coat and sleeping bag. GM also uses scraps in its manufacturing facilities to absorb spilled oil. Scott and the Empowerment Plan can manufacture up to 400 coats from GM's donation. EP employs eight homeless women to make the coats, who can construct up to 150 coats a month. The coats are then distributed throughout the city and even across the U.S. via various charity and non-profit organizations. Source: General Motors