A creative recycling project for Samal

Yesterday was Blog Action Day to Save Philippine Seas, an Internet-wide activity that galvanized local and foreign netizens into a concerted call for marine environment protection. Coincidentally, it was also World Oceans Day. As my contribution, I wrote about Davao Gulf yesterday here and over at my personal blog.

I’ve mentioned that there are individuals in Davao (and organizations as well) who are pouring energy into conservation efforts. Two more of them are Mia Dragon-Floirendo and Maej Villanueva, who are involved in a creative recycling project with a two-pronged goal. These two ladies have adopted Barangay Adecor in Kaputian, Samal, as the recipient of a comprehensive livelihood program and an in-depth awareness-building seminar on environmental protection.

These are the objectives of the creative recycling project:

  • To be able to create marketable products made from recyclables as additional livelihood income;
  • For the women to embrace creative recycling in an effort to create an environmental impact on the island (in Bgy. Adecor and its neighboring barangays);
  • To inculcate the habits of household waste segregation among residents;
  • For the women participants to be able to re-echo their training on creative recycling to others in the barangay.

Plarn (plastic yarn)

In April 2011, pre-workshop activities included site visits to assess community preparedness, available skill sets, and to document the type of recyclable material present in the area. Workshops were held in May to teach 23 participants how to bead paper, crochet “plarn” (plastic yarn), fuse plastics, and the like. Plarn is made out of recycled plastic grocery bags and such. (Maej happily mentioned to me that, due to the apparent success of the program, the barangay is now running out of plastic bags!)

After the initial training phase, the participants were asked to create household and decorative items out of the raw material they had produced. Here are samples of their work:

I was there to witness the graduation of the 23 participants, an event they shared with their families and the barangay officials who were present. It was quite heartening to see how committed they were to the whole deal: they were in it for making extra money, but also for the environment.

One woman thanked Mia and Maej for having been given the skills training, which she said has increased her earning potential. Another woman expressed amazement at the concept of recycling, that it could in fact bring livelihood to their community. So much so that those who were trained to become trainers themselves became excited about echoing their new-found skills.

The graduates

Creative Recycling Project family

This environment-friendly livelihood project is a hopeful one because it finds support from the entire community: from the barangay captain (who happens to be Mia’s husband, Vicente Floirendo), to the barangay councilors and other concerned citizens. Even little children, according to one of the participants, are now helping them by collecting plastic bags and other recyclable trash.

Mia and Maej

Mia & Maej and the barangay ladies

Mia is the project director of this undertaking, and she has resolved to make this a profitable venture for the barangay. She stressed, however, that it should not fall into a charity situation, but as a well-run business. She made sure to not give the participants any impression that, apart from the free training that the community received, there would be no dole outs. The barangay, however, would still continue to benefit from Mia’s support, in terms of business advice and marketing assistance.

Maej was the main resource person of the project. She conducted the assessments and the actual training. She is also in it for the long-term desired effect, which is for the health of our natural environment. Through this advocacy, the plastic and paper wastes of Pearl Farm Beach Resort (which is right beside Bgy. Adecor) are recycled for use in the livelihood project.

Maej is behind Loud Plastics Creation. It is actually a business, but the raw material are sourced from communities where she has imparted skills training in plarn creation. She also carries jewelry and women’s purses made out of pull rings.

I hope that what the indefatigable Mia Floirendo has started in Adecor will spread to the other barangays of Samal Island (a.k.a. Island Garden City of Samal). Also, that the waste segregation practices of Pearl Farm and Leticia by the Sea will become standard operating procedure among all businesses on the islands. Then, Davao Gulf’s marine ecosystem may just stand a chance!

Kudos, Mia & Maej! May we see more conscientious and generous people like you.

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