We See Trash, They See Potential

1 Jun

I found that I was consistently amazed when I was in the Philippines. Whether it was by the strength and fortitude of the people I met or by the awful living conditions which I saw; every day my mind would be blown in some form or another.

This, right here, is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in my life. It’s a Sprite bottle that has been painstakingly melted and bent into this gorgeous tree. I’m sure the symbolism is not lost on anyone here.

In the Western world, such trash is thrown away without a second of thought. In the slums of Manila, this trash can be the difference between getting to eat or going hungry. Women and children rummage through rubbish piles to get at these discarded bits and pieces. Then they sell them on the street. If they are particularly lucky, they will be given the assistance of an NGO which will provide the materials for them and allow them to work in a safe and clean environment. The NGO may also set up a shop or have the items shipped across the world to stores like Oxfam

I visited one of these NGO’s and was, once again, amazed by how beautiful and functional these items of trash were; by how ingenious the women were. The bag above was made from juice pouches. They also used these packets to make purses and covers for couches.

The girls at the Bahay Tuluyan centre made jewellery out of magazines. Really. Magazines.

I think of all of the stuff which I throw away … and I wonder. What could be made out of this trash? How many people could benefit from it? And I cannot even begin to answer that.

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3 Responses to “We See Trash, They See Potential”

  1. angelenepenguin June 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Amazing post, it has really got me thinking. I take so much for granted. I love that they find beauty in the small things and turn them into something precious.

  2. jyd89 June 2, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    this art and talent was also evident in Swaziland.
    Friends I made were able to make entire clothing outfits (from hats to shirts to shoes!) completely out of plastic and other garbage gathered!

    The beauty is not in the end result or what we see, but rather in the magic that was put into its creation.

    • scronk June 2, 2011 at 10:21 am #

      Exactly! I watched some of the girls make their magazine bracelets and it really was a joy to watch them. They were so, so talented and creative.

      Initially, I was going to title this post “We see trash, they see treasure” but decided against it as it was completely disregarding the amount of time and effort that goes into transforming these pieces of trash into works of art.

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