Buddhist Monks Wearing Orange Robes Made from Plastic Bottles

Thailand throws 150,000 to 410,000 billion tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year out of a world total

Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
Thailand was the world's sixth biggest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans behind China, Indonesia.

The monks of the Wat Jak Daeng temple on Bangkok’s Bang Kachao 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, told Efe news.

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.

According to a 2015 article in Science magazine, Thailand was the world’s sixth biggest contributor to plastic waste in the oceans behind China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka — countries where rapid economic growth has bolstered consumption and waste.

Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
The monks of the Wat Jak Daeng temple on Bangkok’s Bang Kachao island have been wearing orange robes made from plastic bottles. Pixabay

The study, led by Professor Jenna R. Jambeck, estimated that Thailand throws 150,000 to 410,000 billion tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year out of a world total of somewhere between 4.8 to 12.7 tonnes annually.

Since the past few months, the Thai authorities have initiated a series of measures and launched environmental policies to try and reduce the non-recyclable plastic consumption in the country.

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, said monk Thipakorn.

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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.

Buddhist, Monks, Orange Robes
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. PIxabay

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.

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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. (IANS)