A Buddhist temple in Thailand, is doing its part to combat the global environmental crisis, in line with the teachings of the Buddha.
Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, has turned his Wat Chak Daeng temple in Samut Prakan Province, just south of Bangkok, into a recycling mecca.
A large recycling machine pulverizes donated plastic bags and bottles 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.
“Donating one kilogram (2.2 lb) of plastic bottles can help make a full set of monk robes, which has a high return value, both in terms of money and merits,” the temple’s abbot, Maha Pranom, told Reuters.
When the Abbot Pranom ventures out into surrounding communities, citizens offer up their plastic waste rather than food, to receive his blessings.
In two years, the temple has produced more than 800 sets of the raiment, which sell for between 2,000 baht ($65.79) and 5,000 baht ($164.47). The income keeps the recycling operation up and running, along with a revolving staff of volunteer housewives, retirees, and disabled persons.
“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.
According to the Ocean Conservancy, the 40 tons of plastic that the monks have recycled is a great first step in helping stem the tide of plastic pollution from Thailand that places the Southeast Asian country in 5th place for plastic polluting nations.
“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.