Photo Caption: Members of the Malungon Youth Movement and the Rotaract Club together
with the indigenous people’s association of Barangay Tamban at the upcycling site
Plastics are known to be one of the major pollutants to the environment. The conveniences that plastics offer to daily human life led to increased production of plastics through the years. Plastic products are non-biodegradable and persist in the environment for hundreds of years especially if communities do not have efficient waste management practices.
While completely eradicating plastics may seem to be a complex task, reduction of plastic use is seen to be an alternative solution to the environmental problem caused by plastic pollution. One of the emerging practices on plastic waste reduction is upcycling — an o shoot from the practice of recycling.
The process of turning waste into a reusable material or product has been known to be recycling. In recycling, however, the quality of the original product slightly decreases every time it is recycled.
Upcycling differentiates itself by turning a waste material into a product that is of higher quality or value. In upcycling, waste materials are not sent to recycling centers or junk shops. One uses creativity to repurpose the waste material and turn it into a marketable product such as a household or fashionable item.
Photo Caption: Plastic bottles used for gardening
With the COVID-19 pandemic and the various local calamities that continuously disrupt economic activities, there is an increased need for individuals and communities to look for opportunities to maximize resources and generate income.
Addressing the plastic pollution problem while making people realize that plastic wastes can turn into productive and even profit-generating materials inspired the Rotaract Club of Greater General Santos — Stratford International School to promote upcycling through the Upcycle MindaNow Campaign.
Upcycle MindaNow aims to address the issues of the growing number of plastic wastes produced while enabling unemployed workers in Mindanao earn money during the pandemic. The campaign focuses on providing opportunities for individuals to set up home and community gardens, including hanging plant systems, using plastic waste upcycled products.
The campaign is a collaboration of the Rotaract Club of Greater General Santos — Stratford
International School, Rotaract Club of Downtown Davao — Tecarro College Foundation, Project Sustainable Waste Action Program, National Geographic Society, UNESCO, Davao Oriental Regional Science High School and Digos City National High School.
In collaboration with Ateneo De Davao University, a virtual conference was organized last December 1, 2020 to attract more stakeholders in Mindanao to promote and localize the upcycling campaign. The webinar participated by 382 individuals emphasized the gravity of the plastic pollution problem, the value of upcycling, and the upcycling strategies that can be adopted by individuals and communities.
Photo Caption: Upcycle Mindanao Webinar livestreamed via Facebook and organized to encourage various stakeholders to adopt upcycling practices
To lead in localizing the practice of upcycling, the Rotaract Club of Greater General Santos — Stratford International School implemented an upcycling initiative in Barangay Tamban, Malungon, Sarangani. The Rotaract Club partnered with the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office of Malungon, Sarangani and Barangay Tamban to place collection bins in the barangay where residents will be encouraged to drop their used plastic bottles.
The Rotaract Club engaged with the Malungon Youth Movement and the Sangguniang Kabataan of Barangay Datal Batong to collect, clean, and include these plastic bottles in upcycling kits. These kits were then turned over to a local indigenous peoples association in Barangay Tamban who were engaged to establish a communal vegetable garden.
The Rotaract Club encouraged the indigenous people association to repurpose the plastic
bottles as plant pots for the communal garden.
To incentivize the association’s adoption of upcycling, the Rotaract Club provided vegetable seedlings donated by their sponsor Rotary Club of Greater General Santos and partner Rotaract Club of Downtown Davao — Tecarro College Foundation.
Aside from the plastic bottles and vegetable seeds, each upcycling kit contains paints, brushes, and printed handouts on upcycling strategies.
The Rotaract Club is currently working with more partners to make upcycling an island-wide practice in Mindanao.
Photo Caption: Indigenous people’s association in Barangay Tamban, Malungon, Sarangani using the plastic bottles in creating plant pots
The author is Reian Mark Tamayo, member of the Rotaract Club of Greater General Santos — Stratford International School.
This article was also featured in the February 2021 issue of the Philippine Rotary Magazine as seen below.