Recycle for a Cause: Turning Trash into Treasure

What if your plastic shopping bag or the ring pull tab from your Coke can could help pay for a child’s education?

Recycle for a Cause, a campaign launched in the UAE, allows for just that kind of wonder—turning your trash into treasure.

How so?

Plastic bags and ring pull tabs collected from the community are sent to the Philippines and used to create and sell high quality merchandise as a source of livelihood for Filipino families in poverty.

The Recycle for a Cause campaign has been launched by Abu Dhabi Cause Connect (ADCC) in support of the Philippine Community Fund (PFC), which helps to provide shelter, food and education for children who are rescued from living on dump sites. PCF is a UK registered charity that works to free Filipino children and their families from the effects of poverty. The Recycle for a Cause product line alone provides employment for over 300 adults in the PCF community.

How it all began

“I felt in the children something I experienced in my own childhood, a feeling of powerlessness, a sense that they felt trapped and couldn’t change their future,” said PCF founder Jane Walker.

PCF started as a small day care in 2003, and now eight years later, has its own school made of recycled container vans in Tondo, Manila, with projects in Navotas and Baguio City, providing education, health and livelihood services to over 6,000 people a week.

PCF’s “winning over waste” recycled merchandise focuses on creating a sustainable fundraising model for the charity while encouraging both the PCF community and its supporters worldwide to be more environmentally conscious.

UAE resident Susan Tabler and her family were first introduced to PCF through a newspaper article in Dubai six years ago, and on a trip to visit sponsored children, were exposed to PCF’s adult livelihood programs of making bags and jewelry out of recycled materials. “Since then, it has been great being involved in sharing PCF’s incredible recycled products with Abu Dhabi and Dubai communities,” Susan said.

Here’s Jane Walker (Philippine Community Fund) and Susan Tabler (Recycle For A Cause) talking to Socially Conscious about their combined social good initiative.

Creative Connection

Abu Dhabi Cause Connect, an organization dedicated to increasing creative collaboration between causes, community, and corporates, was moved by the vision of PCF.

“As soon as I learnt about PCF, I knew we had to enlist the UAE community to be more environmentally-conscious,” said Suparna Mathur, social entrepreneur and co-founder of ADCC. “I can’t think of a better reason to recycle than knowing your small actions can have a big impact in children’s lives.”

Since moving back to the UAE in 2008, Suparna had been frustrated with the general lack of opportunities for people to recycle, and launched Recycle for a Cause as a campaign to promote both environmental and social responsibility, in line with ADCC’s larger goal of empowering the UAE community to be a force for social good.

Through the generous support of the campaign’s Community Sponsor, Al Futtaim Carillion, Recycle for a Cause has been able to achieve scale through the production of recycling boxes to help increase awareness and mass collection of the recycled items.

“Al-Futtaim Carillion has a long history and presence in the region, and we are vested in the growth of the UAE community. Our mission is to make tomorrow a better place and our CSR program is well aligned with our overall sustainability principles and values.” said Stuart Mee, Head of Sustainability, Al Futtaim Carillion.

Social Responsibility

Everyone – be it individuals, community organizations, or businesses – can get involved with this campaign. By collecting what you would ordinarily throw away, not only can you reduce your own waste, but you can help use your ‘trash’ to create ‘treasure’ to generate income for PCF.

The campaign is focused on collecting two recycled items that are vital to PCF’s product line: ring pulls from cans and non-biodegradable plastic bags.

“I was amazed at how beautiful, stylish and of great quality the bags made by PCF are. They are easily something that my friends and I would use. The story and meaning behind each bag and product just adds to its appeal,” said Soffia Diop, co-founder of ADCC. “We cannot wait to help collect as many recyclable items as possible to support PCF’s production of these bags made out of ring pulls and plastic bags.”

PCF coin purse made from recycled ring pulls

Organizations can help make any dining outlet or special event more ‘green’ by saving ring pulls from canned drinks that are customarily served. The UAE has also pledged to become plastic bag-free by 2013, and so this campaign comes at a time when residents are urged to re-evaluate their regular household use of plastic bags. The UAE currently consumes 20 billion bags out of a global figure of 500 billion.

Plastic bags are extremely hazardous to the environment, and pose a great threat to animals; it is estimated that 1 in 2 camels dies from eating plastic bags. This campaign provides a unique way to eliminate plastic bag waste from UAE while putting it to valuable use for children in the Philippines.

Goals

Recycle for a Cause wants to see how quickly it can reach a collection of 1 million ring pull tabs and 2 million plastic bags.

Not only will one million ring pull tabs eliminate 250 kg of aluminum waste from the UAE environment, but it simultaneously permits PCF to produce products with a market value of AED 500,000, as each ring tab is worth 50 fils of finished product value to the charity!

That’s trash transformed into two very important treasures.

Find out more & get involved today!

To find out more about PCF, visit www.p-c-f.org
To find out more about ADCC, visit www.facebook.com/AbuDhabiCauseConnect

To get involved with Recycle for a Cause, visit http://www.facebook.com/RecycleforaCause or email RecycelforaCauseUAE@gmail.com

This post was written by Uttama Patel for Recycle for a Cause

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