From plastic to blankets, shirts: Group recycles trash from cemeteries
While Filipinos would take every “Undas” as a chance to visit the grave of departed loved ones in cemeteries, this group has a different agenda.
For years, volunteers from the Tzu Chi Foundation, a Taiwan-based non-government organization that promotes environmental protection, collect sacks of plastic bottles in cemeteries during this season and later transform them to useable items.
Margie Gorospe, a volunteer for eight years now, is stationed at Manila North Cemetery this year. She’s been collecting polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, plastic cups, and cartons since October 31.
By Friday, the group has already collected a total of 139 sacks of plastic bottles that would be delivered to Taiwan where they will be transformed into blankets and shirts.
“Yung PET bottles na 80 pieces, ito yung magiging items niya — blanket,” Gorospe said in an interview with INQUIRER.net
“Tapos ito, halimbawa may disaster, halimbawa may sunog o nabahaan, ito yung nire-relief namin sa kanila,” she added, citing that they distribute the blankets nationwide.
According to Gorospe, the group was formed after the onslaught of typhoon “Ondoy” (international name: Ketsana). Ondoy pummeled Metro Manila and nearby areas in 2009.
“Simula po noong Ondoy, doon po kami nag-start kasi puro baha, puro bara ng (basura), kasi lahat tapon sa kanal,” she said.
“Kaya simula nung Ondoy hanggang ngayon, at least kahit papaano medyo nabawas-bawasan na ‘yung kalamidad ng baha,” she added.
Aside from blankets, Tzu Chi Foundation also produces uniforms for volunteers from the gathered PET bottles. Gorospe said about 60 bottles are needed to produce one shirt.
Gorospe said volunteers would usually collect those reusable items for eight hours a day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the cemetery. A team of volunteers is being deployed in every major cemetery in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, Marissa Gelarzo, a commissioner of the NGO assigned at the Manila South Cemetery, said they have already collected a total of 172 sacks of plastic bottles, plastic cups, and cartons from the graveyard since October 31.
Gelarzo said they would sell the cartons and cans, which proceeds would later go to a fund that helps those in need in the Philippines.
“‘Yung mga karton, papel, at saka lata, at bote, binebenta ‘yan tapos ‘yung pinagbentalan, ilalagay sa charity,” Gelarzo said in a separate interview with INQUIRER.net.
“Ang Tzu Chi Foundation kasi marami silang tinutulungan na mahihirap, mga kulang sa financial, sa mga gamot. Ang mission kasi ng foundation ay education, charity, medicine, humanity atsaka ang pinaka-importante ay ‘yung environment protection,” she added. /kga