Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
Bothered by a sudden rise in plastic waste generated by residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Buddhist monk from Myanmar's largest city of Yangon, started an innovative upcycling drive to tackle the issue, reported Reuters.
Every morning, when 51-year-old Abbot Ottamasara, who runs the Thabarwa meditation centre, sets out to collect alms from the city's residents, he also asks them to give him their plastic waste.
With the help of dozens of volunteers, Ottamasara's team now receives thousands of used plastic bottles. These are then recycled into food containers and building material at the mediation centre.
"More plastic waste was being dumped on the street during the pandemic," the monk told the media.
"If we (the meditation centre) ask for donations, people will keep them (the bottles) clean. Then we can use these plastic bottles as food containers, which not only saves money but also handles the plastic waste issue," Ottamasara added.
Ottamasara said that while around 2,500 tonnes of trash is thrown out every day in Yangon, most of which are dumped on roads and in waterways or burned, authorities do no organise recycling drives regularly in Myanmar.
Three months after launching the recycling drive, Ottamasara's team has now been able to make a shelter using car tyres filled with plastic waste and several hanging sun shades. The monk hopes to one day make building blocks and garden beds for his centre by using plastic waste.
Till date, Ottamasara's team has recycled two tonnes of plastic waste or nearly 200,000 plastic bottles and saved around $10,000.
"I intend to continue using the waste for any necessary structure at my centres as a way to not only share awareness of plastic waste but also partially solve the waste problem," the monk added.
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