The monks of the Wat Jak Daeng temple on Bangkok’s Bang Krachao island have been wearing orange robes made from plastic bottles and other recycled materials.”There is not a big difference between the robes, I myself wear a recycled plastic robe and they are very similar to the traditional ones,” monk Thipakorn of Wat Jak Daeng, who is also one of the driving forces behind this initiative in a country addicted to plastic.
A commune-level association, which has the financial support of big companies and the patronage of the Royal Palace of Thailand, began to make the seven-piece robes for the monks this year. Plastic bottles are collected for recycling in the Wat Jak Daeng temple, on the southern part of the man-made island, and is surrounded by lush vegetation as the result of environmental measures in place to protect the surroundings.
Some 30 plastic polyethylene terephthalate (PET) litre-and-a-half bottles are needed to make each set of robes, made up of 30 or 35 per cent recycled materials, while the rest is cotton and other materials. The selected waste is sent to a recycling plant, which in turn sends back fabric made of plastic. Workers and volunteers in the temple then cut and mend the patterns to make robes.
“Until now, we have made some 200 robes,” Thipakorn added.Some of the garments are given to the monks in the temple, while others are put on sale for worshipers who visit the sanctuary, who can buy them and donate to the monastery.Apart from clothing, Wat Jak Daeng also reuses bottle caps and labels to make chairs and other products, setting an example in the fight against the excessive consumption of plastic.