A Buddhist temple in the south of Bangkok has found a creative and sustainable method to curb the growing menace of Thailand’s plastic waste.
Thailand ranks fifth in the highest contributor of plastic to the world’s oceans list, and a temple in the south of Bangkok has launched a campaign to reduce the amount of plastic waste the country produces.
Monks residing at the Wat Chak Daeng temple have been recycling plastic bottles for over two years under the watchful eye of Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, 54, the abbot of the temple in Samut Prakan province.
With the drive, the temple aims to reduce the amount of plastic entering the Chao Phraya River, which flows south to the Gulf of Thailand in the western Pacific Ocean.
“I’m practicing the Buddha’s teachings, which also align with solving the global environmental crisis,” says the reverent abbot.
He says that he was struck at the idea of recycling plastic after his temple was littered with swarms of plastic waste.
While the temple’s initial effort of burning the plastic bottles to make fuel proved inefficient, the monks switched to making t-shirts and eventually started making robes.
The robe making process involves collecting bottles and washing them after removing the caps and labels. The cleaned bottles are then crushed into plastic rolls.
These plastic rolls are further treated to make polyester fibres, which are then stretched, dyed and woven into fabrics for saffron-coloured robes.
The temple has since crushed over 40 tonnes (88,185 lb) of plastic and produced at least 800 sets of robes.
The robe set fetch between 2,000 baht ($65.79) and 5,000 baht ($164.47), which helps to keep the project afloat.
The project has also become a source of income for volunteers, many of whom are local housewives, retirees and disabled persons who help with sorting the waste.
Need to clean up the environment
“We all need to waste less and recycle more. That is why we encourage people to collect recyclable plastic bottles and bring them to us,” says the head monk.
“By collecting and donating plastic bottles, they can make merit just as if they had donated robes. This way they can help clean up the environment.”
While devotees offer monks alms like food and clothes, the Wat Chak Daeng temple encourages devotees to donate plastic bags and bottles.
“Donating one kilogram (2.2 lb) of plastic bottles can help make a full set of monk robes, which has a high return value, both in terms of money and merits,” explains the senior monk.
Maha Pranom also educates the local communities on the need to reduce and recycle plastic.
“If you don’t collect these plastics, where do they end up? In the stomachs of dugongs, dolphins, whales, and many other sea animals. Then they die,” he says while interacting with the locals.
Apart from turning plastic bottles into new robes, the volunteers also compost organic waste into fertilizers, turn food waste into biofuel and convert plastic waste into diesel fuel.
The temple’s initiative has been lauded by conservationists and environmentalists.
“Not only are the monks making a concrete contribution to recycling, but they are raising awareness in their communities,” said Chever Voltmer, Director for Plastics Initiatives at Ocean Conservancy.
What do you think of the temple’s effort in reducing plastic pollution? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Vegan culture, food, beauty & more
- Mohsina Dodhiya
- 17th May 2022
A number of companies already offer a variety of plant-based leathers using everything from apples and cactus to pineapple leaves. A new poll has revealed that a majority of UK motorists are keen on buying fully vegan cars. In a research commissioned by the Vegan Society, people were asked about their opinions on vegan cars …
- Mohsina Dodhiya
- 25th April 2022
It is estimated that fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. Three critically endangered Sumatran tigers have died after being caught in traps on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. This is the latest blow for a species whose numbers are estimated to have dropped to about several hundreds. Local authorities found two of the dead …
All the quizzes you love to binge!
- Marlon Farrugia
- 10th January 2020
How much vegan knowledge do you have stored away? Do you have to Google your way through a shopping trip, or do you have all the bad E-numbers memorised? Find out now with this quiz. Marlon Farrugia Marlon Farrugia is a freelance writer from Brighton. He has been a dedicated vegan for many years, and …
- Marlon Farrugia
- 13th October 2019
Spook Season approaches. There will be ghosts, goblins, ghouls, and glucose. You need a costume, and you want to it to show off your personality, which means VEGAN. But what to choose? Take our quiz to find out your perfect outfit. Marlon Farrugia Marlon Farrugia is a freelance writer from Brighton. He has been a …
- Marlon Farrugia
- 26th September 2019
“If you were a vegetable, what kind would you be?” A question that has tormented humanity throughout the ages – until now. Read: QUIZ: If you score 19/20 on THIS quiz, you’re a Vegan God Marlon Farrugia Marlon Farrugia is a freelance writer from Brighton. He has been a dedicated vegan for many years, and …