Every month in Thailand, citizens gather over 10 tons of plastic from all over the country and bring it to a monastery. Here, the plastic goes through a remarkable transformation that serves as an inspiration for how recycling can look at its best! This innovative look at a plastic problem will have you wanting to get a little cozier with your own plastic waste.

In this monastery in Wat Chak Daeng, Thailand, Buddhist monk Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro is leading a charge to turn plastic waste into robes! For a country whose oceans are among the top ten most polluted in the world, this is a big, big deal.

That’s why, on this edition of Saturdays Around the World, we’re traveling to Thailand to meet this innovator and see how he makes this magic happen!

Image: Young monks wearing orange robes crossing the road with umbrellas

Source: Pixabay

What if the recycling bin wasn’t the end of your plastic bottle’s life, but instead, the beginning of its next exciting journey?

What if you knew that the very same bottle that held your refreshing beverage went on to become a Bluetooth speaker, bench, or join the tons on their way to being woven into monastic robes in Thailand? The products we consider “waste” still have so much life to live! So, to embrace this, one monk has found a way to spin a new tale for the plastic littering his country: by turning plastic into fabric.

The always uplifting and talented creators at Great Big Story take us to meet the person in charge of the whole operation, Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro, and see how they do it!

Great Big Story seriously never fails to bring us to some remarkable places! If you’d like to see more from them, click here to explore their content that we’ve featured in the past, or check out their full library over on YouTube!

Curious about the process behind turning a plastic bottle into clothing? Check out how one fiber manufacturer, REPREVE, makes theirs!

Making fabric out of plastic bottles is becoming more and more popular throughout the world! And as you can see, the benefits and inspiration are endless!

“Everything doesn’t have to be thrown away. We can collect it and use it to benefit us again.”
— Phra Maha Pranom Dhammalangkaro

What if we could move to a place where we design with an item’s life-cycle in mind? A place where our mail can be planted to grow gardens, our food scraps can generate our energy, and the plastic we’ve used in the past century can be used to its fullest potential—what would happen if that was the norm?

Here are a few others who are innovating ways to give billions of pounds of plastic waste a new life!

10 minutes

From Fish to Fashion: When A Fishing Net Becomes A Hat!

What if we looked at the life cycle of every item we purchased and thought "Where did this come from? What will happen when I'm done with it?" This company has figured out how to solve a problem for a community of fishermen and save wildlife by giving some of the ocean's most harmful pollution a new, more fashionable, life.

Read More

10 minutes

What if We Turned Plastic Waste into a Valuable Currency?

The Plastic Bank is turning plastic into money for people around the globe. This idea has the power to end poverty while saving our oceans!

Read More

10 minutes

A Village Made of Plastic

What might happen if we placed more focus on the idea of inventing ever more creative and practical uses for what's already been made? Why keep making more "stuff"? There's something popping up in Panama that can inspire us all!

Read More

Stay open to new possibilities!

  • Sam

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” —Albert Einstein

Keep these good stories coming!

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  1. Great Big Story. “How a Buddhist Monk Is Turning Plastic Into Robes.” YouTube, 28 May 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wu23IkOomw&feature=emb_title. Accessed 13 Aug. 2020.

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.