Monks at a Buddhist temple in Thailand are using recycling to make their robes and they all come from plastic bottles.
For one set of saffron robes they recycle sixty 1.5 liter water bottles.
The 'new" robes are light and comfortable to wear, and indistinguishable from traditional garments.
"I was looking for a way to recycle plastic bottles," said Phra Maha Pranom, assistant abbot at the Chak Daeng temple in Bangkok.
"I'd heard someone had made a shirt from plastic, so I thought we could make our monks' robes."
Used plastic bottles are donated to the temple /CGTN Photo
Used plastic bottles are donated to the temple, washed and the labels and caps removed.
Then the monks crush the bottles into bales and send them to a recycling plant, where the plastic is combined with cotton and zinc-oxide to produce fabric.
The fabric is returned to the temple to be made into robes by volunteers at a sewing workshop. Thirty percent of each finished robe comes from recycled materials.
They are crushed into bales and sent to a recycling center. /CGTN Photo
Phra Panom said: "The material is light, smooth and cool. It also dries very quickly after washing."
Thailand produces around a million tonnes of plastic waste each year and is one of the worst offenders for illegal dumping.
Thai authorities are urging the replacement of plastic containers with biodegradable materials – and trying to phase out plastic bags, straws and bottle seals.
The plastic fabric is made into monks robes at the temple. /CGTN Photo
The monks say every little gesture helps tackling what is a global problem. They hope their idea will spread and be taken up by big corporations.
Cost is also competitive. The price for a plastic robe falls midway between the cheapest and most expensive traditional robes.
The monks also make t-shirts, belts, and even chairs from plastic. They are experimenting with using the material in building repairs.
The monks said they are continually looking for new ways to reduce the trash that ends up in landfills, or worse still, the sea, destroying both the environment and marine life.
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)