An environmental organization aspiring for a Zero Waste society today extolled the role of Filipino women as recycling champions ahead of the observance of International Women’s Day on Friday.
In a news release, the EcoWaste Coalition lauded the role of Filipino women in resource conservation at home and in the community through innovative recycling and micro-enterprise development.
“We honor and thank the Filipino women across the nation who are in the forefront of this amazing grassroots movement that is creatively putting discards to good use,” said OchieTolentino, Vice-President, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Probably the most ingenious sector in the recycling chain, our women are creating fabulous decorative and functional products from stuff that are often burned or thrown to the bins, streets and dumps,” she said.
Tolentino cited how women recyclers are turning juice packs, condiments sachets, flour bags, rice sacks, fabric scraps, advertising banners, plastic sando bags, drinking straws, magazines, newspapers and “Yellow Pages” into a wide selection of carry, shopping and school bags and other functional items such as purses, baskets, letter holders, photo frames and shoe organizers, as well as converting cereal boxes, milk cartons and glossy periodicals into bracelets, earrings and other accessories.
Their recycling efforts, done with utmost patience and creativity, are saving used containers and packaging materials from being burned, dumped or landfilled, which can badly affect the surroundings, she noted. “On top of reducing the volume of garbage and preventing pollution that can harm human health and the environment, this largely women-led recycling movement is building confidence, self-reliance and power among an erstwhile disadvantaged group of community women,” she said.
Working from home or in simple workshops, these predominantly women self-help groups and cooperatives are becoming training grounds for eco-conscious entrepreneurs, while providing their members with supplementary income that puts food on the table and sends kids to schools, Tolentino noted.
The EcoWaste Coalition cited the work of Buklod Tao, a people’s organization based in a typhoon Ondoy-devastated barangay in San Mateo, Rizal, which has organized a social enterprise of women and other community members who turn discarded juice packs into “tetra pots” used for “urban container gardening.”
Acccording to Lyn Ramos, Secretary of Buklod Tao, the materials are collected by “tetra pickers” – mothers, janitors and school children – from funeral wakes, burial rites in cemeteries, schools and surroundings, sorted and then made by women sewers into “tetra pots” who can earn as much as over P4,000 monthly each. The finished “tetra pot” is sold for P10 per piece.
In Nueva Ecija, the Krusada sa Kalikasan supports the Kalikasan Novelty Products made by women with disabilities who make quality native and recycled items, including Tigbi (Job’s tears) bead crafts from candy and snack wrappers, while the Kalinga Ministry provides livelihood opportunities for women from crafts made of recycled papers.
The group also cited the innovative work of Kilus Foundation in Ugong, Pasig City, the Rags2Riches project in Payatas, Quezon City, the Invisible Sisters comprising of housewives and “lolas” from urban poor communities in Metro Manila, the ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bayan ni Juan Project in Calauan, Laguna and the Women’s Multipurpose Cooperative in Baguio City, as among the growing list of successful recycling-based micro-enterprises that are turning “trash into cash,” empowering women and helping their families meet their needs, while protecting the environment from garbage and pollution.