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Vol. 24 No.1
January - March 2007

ISSN 0125-0159

Editor's Note
Special Feature
Sufficiency Economy
Dr. Sumet Tantivejkul: The Philosophy of Sufficiency Economy for the World
Pattani Salt: The Fair Trade Culture of Buy Ten and Get One Free
The Mekong: The River of Life and Culture
Biodiesel Comes to Fuel Users’ Rescue
In Focus
Recycling for Art’s Sake, at Wat Suwannaram
Apae Amor, the Outstanding Akha Guide at Akha Hill House
Thai Touch
The Diving Paradise of Ko Tao
Keyword Search

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Recycling for Art’s Sake, at Wat Suwannaram

Trash is meat to be thrown away, most people think. But it is wanted as valuable raw material at the recycling centers started by Phra Stapana, a monk of Wat Suwannaram, a temple in Bangkok Noi district in western Bangkok. The 57-year-old monk founded his first recycling center at the temple in June 2001. The facility has transformed refuse that others discarded into works of art. Students at the Wat Suwannaram temple school learn the process, which is in line with the national education policy which promoting the teaching of local knowledge or local wisdom. It benefits society because communities can dispose of their trash properly, and students, as well as local people who join the recycling project, generate income from their pieces of art made from recycled materials.

The recycling center at the Wat Suwannaram temple school is reducing the amount of trash, especially used paper, at the school and nearby communities. This obviously improves the environment of the school and the communities. Importantly, the students who join the project are developing their concentration while creating their works of art, and concentration leads to wisdom, said Phra Stapana.

The recycling center is producing many pieces of art; here are just a few:

-Sculptures of animals, such as deer and elephants. The structure is made from steel rods stuffed with cloth or paper. Then it is covered with a mixture of cement, sand, water, and pieces of used paper, and later finished with paint. The process turns discarded objects into works of art which have contributed to landscape and road decoration in the city.

-Artificial waterfalls made of used paper and plastic bottles. These artificial waterfalls help treat wastewater by increasing the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water. Besides, some kinds of water plants that grow on the artificial waterfalls can also absorb dirty elements in wastewater. These waterfalls, built from recycled trash, can thus help treat wastewater and contribute to landscape gardening. They look realistic and are nearly as durable as real rocks and logs but are better in terms of an environmentally friendly use of waste material.

Some works of Phra Stapana display not only beauty but also teachings, such as the sculptures of the Three Wise Monkeys that cover their ears, mouth, and eyes, symbolizing three ways to live a happy life by hearing no evil, speaking no evil, and seeing no evil.

Apart from the recycling center that benefits communities around Wat Suwannaram, Phra Stapana has developed similar centers for communities in other areas. Five more recycling centers have been built in Bangkok and Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The monk intends to have as many recycling centers built as possible.

Although the recycling centers of Phra Stapana are small cogs in a big wheel, they have proved to be valuable attempts to solve environmental problems. What the monk has introduced does benefit peoples quality of life; however, it also depends on peoples cooperation.

The conservation of the environment and nature is not the duty of an individual but the collective responsibility of all members in society to guarantee the well-being of coming generations, Phra Stapana said.

Phra Stapana Recycling Center
Wat Suwannaram
33 Soi Charan Sanitwong Road
Khwaeng Siriraj
Bangkok Noi district
Bangkok 10700

Story: pbalakanich
Photos: pbalakanich

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