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Thai Monks Create Iconic Robes from Recycled Plastic

Thai monks create robes from recycled plastic

Thai Monks Create Iconic Robes from Recycled Plastic | Purple Turtle Co

Wat Chak Daeng temple in Samut Prakan Province, just south of Bangkok, has been turning plastic waste donations into their iconic saffron orange robes!

How much plastic waste does Thailand create?

Believe it or not, in 2020, Thailand was the 19th biggest contributor to plastic waste in the world, creating 5.32 million tonnes. Taking its size into consideration, that's pretty scary. However, Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro's temple is helping to relieve suffering in the world, just as the teaching of Buddhism guides them to, by accepting plastic donations in order to combat the global environmental crisis. 

How do they recycle plastic into robes?

They have a large recycling machine that pulverizes the donated plastic bags and bottles it into large bales which the monks organize to be shipped off to recycling plants. Once broken down, the plastic is turned into polyester fibers which are then dyed by the monks and turned into their iconic saffron orange robes – how incredible is that?

Phra Mahapranom Dhammalangaro, Abbot of Chak Deang Temple stands amongst cotton plants that he has grown, hoping to harvest the cotton from them to use. The aim of the temple is complete sustainability | © Luke Duggleby / Redux Pictures

Click here to watch a video on how this process is completed.

How many robes have they created?

The temple has produced more than 800 sets of the raiment in two years, which sell for between 2,000 baht (around 49GBP) and 5,000 baht (approx. 123GBP). The income keeps the recycling operation up and running, along with a revolving staff of volunteer housewives, retirees, and disabled people.

When the Abbot Pranom ventures out into surrounding communities, citizens offer up their plastic waste rather than food, to receive his blessings. If you don’t collect these plastics, where do they end up? In the stomachs of dugongs, dolphins, whales, and many other sea animals,” the Abbot tells them, which of course we know too well! 

Monks Recycling

Volunteers take part in a river clean-up event organised by Chak Deang temple. Over 100 people descended on to boats and retrieve garbage from the Chao Praya River that flows next to the temple | © Luke Duggleby / Redux Pictures

Not only are the monks making a concrete contribution to recycling, but they are raising awareness in their communities,” Chever Voltmer, Director for Plastics Initiatives at Ocean Conservancy told Reuters

Raising awareness in these countries is half the battle. It's great seeing such an incredible movement put in place by a truly influential group of people!

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