Community Project

Bottle benches
153 plastic bottles 45,900 pieces of trash
The finished product
The finished product.

How do you reuse waste and also benefit the community? Before leaving Sabang, we helped to improve the community park including adding a tetherball, painting the swings and playground, and building two park benches. These benches contain a total of 153 plastic bottles stuffed with approximately 45,900 pieces of trash including newspaper, cardboard, plastic wrappers, magazines, shampoo wrappers, even a shoe. The bottles were collected by the community and trash was both donated from households and collected off of the beach. Local school children worked hard to stuff all of the bottles, while adult community members assisted with the building of the benches. Everyone enjoyed stamping their handprints on our finished product. Consider building a bottle bench in your own community!

Learning about reef fish on a bottle bench built by last year's batch of Peace Corps volunteers
Learning about reef fish on a bottle bench built by last year’s batch of Peace Corps volunteers

3 thoughts on “Community Project”

  1. What happens with their garbage otherwise? Do they have any system for garbage collection/removal from their homes?
    I am just wondering how similar it is to Indonesia where locals just sorta make their own garbage dump at some random location on the outskirts of the community or whatever it may be.

    1. Someplaces have the privilege of trash collection taken to an external dump site, however not in Sabang. Most residents burn their trash. This is especially troublesome because of the harmful chemicals released when burning plastics. This can negatively influence one’s health and also bioaccumulates over time in one’s body tissues. Therefore for women bearing children such chemicals can impact fetal development. Contraception is also taboo here (at least in Romblon and Morong) and many women in their late teens or early 20s have at least one child. Women our age are typically married with multiple children. The frequency of single mothers is a rising problem and oftentimes men may work overseas as a means to avoid the shame that can come from abandonment.

      Some residents do throw their trash randomly, however there is much pride in the cleanliness of one’s home and yard. Everyday Filipino women can be seen sweeping the dirt pathways with brooms made from coconut trees or sweeping the pavement in front of one’s shop.

      I recently participated in a beach clean up during which biodegradable materials like branches and leaves were burned onsite to improve aesthetic value. Plastics were carried out but I am still trying to determine whether they were burned, buried or dumped.

      On the positive the average Filipino produces 0.3-0.7 kilograms of trash per day, way less than the average American/Canadian. Think of all of our one-time use plastics and food waste. Food waste here is fed to the pigs and therefore nonexistent. Do they also burn trash in Indonesia?

      1. What you said about young women makes me reflect on how fortunate women in 1st world countries are to have the opportunity to attend university and work and travel and pursue recreation & sports, instead of having the expectation to be married and have children as soon as puberty hits. Something that you and I can definitely appreciate.

        Yes, trash is often burned in Indonesia, and a lot of trash ends up in the ocean and rivers as well. I know it’s something that a lot of my friends there are very upset and passionate about. People are often posting pictures or petitions on Facebook/the internet to enforce garbage laws or to eliminate the small plastic bags that are given to customers along with every purchase.

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