Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project in Cobrador, Romblon

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If you want to make the world a better place, you should start the change at home. This has become proven true by the Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project in Cobrador, Romblon.

Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project in Cobrador Island, Romblon opened last 26 May 2017. It is now complete with books, bookshelves, tables, chairs, and computers. This Plastic Library Project was organized not only to encourage children to read books but to raise awareness of the importance of proper waste management as well.

Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project in Cobrador, Romblon
Bayanihan Plastic Bottle Library Project in Cobrador, Romblon

The idea of creating this Project started in the residence of Emelyn “Emm” Balabat, a Filipina, and her Australian partner, Matt. Matt has always been knowledgeable about efficient waste management at home. And, he has influenced Emm to practice this as well. They both made it part of their daily life. After knowing this concept by heart, they generously share this in the province of Romblon.

How did they come up with the idea?

Emm and Matt have been backpacking in different provinces within the Philippines. Even before residing in Romblon, they are already aware of the inefficient waste management and disposal in many provinces.

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During their stay in Sibuyan Island, Romblon, Emm and Matt practiced proper waste management. They have their own tasks in making their home clean and green. Emm then noticed Matt making ecobricks made of plastic bottles with plastic litter inside. She got interested as to how ecobricks are made and used.

So, she made a research about the ecobricks and came across a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in the US, Hug-It-Forward. This NGO helps communities, more particularly in Guatemala and El Salvador, to build schools with the use of plastic bottles and litter.

Aside from the inefficient waste management in the Philippine, the country is also known to lack decent facilities in public schools. Emm thought that this problem can be resolved through the ecobrick project.

So, she sent an email to the NGO Hug-it-Forward to express her intentions. Fortunately, she received a reply from the NGO with their manual on how to build a plastic bottle school. She wasted no time and studied the manual.

Thereafter, although she and Matt are only new in Romblon, her good intentions to put up a school facility in the area motivated her to personally visit the then Mayor of the Municipality of Romblon, Gerard Montojo. She proposed to the then Mayor that a plastic library be built in the island of Cobrador. The Project was gladly supported by the then Mayor. And through Facebook and by word of mouth, they gained more supporters for the Project. The next thing they know was that they are already making a history.

How did they build the Plastic Library?

Ecobricks concept applied in building the Plastic Library of Cobrador Island was inspired by the structural design used by the NGO Hug-It-Forward. Basically, it is similar to cinder block structures. The framing of the structure is made of iron and cement. And, the ecobricks are used as the alternative to the cinder block walls.

The walls are made up of the vertically piled up ecobricks bound by two layers of chicken wire. Three layers of mixtures of cement and sand are used for the covering of the ecobricks.

The ecobricks are made of plastic bottles which have been firmly stuffed with plastic litter. The Plastic litter includes foil chips bag, shampoo sachet, and other similar polystyrene and plastic wastes.

What role did the Project play in Romblon?

The Plastic Library Project has been a success through the efforts and cooperation of the locals and of the local government. At first, the municipal government of Romblon required each employee to donate 10 pieces of 1.5 plastic bottles for the Project. The Elementary schools in Romblon, through its students, donated plastic bottles as well.

The Plastic Library Project became the face of the local government’s campaign to promote proper waste management. The Project helped encourage the locals to participate in their campaign for their monthly cleanup, for waste segregation and to limit the use of plastic bags.

Contributions from the outside of Romblon have also been extended to the Plastic Library Project. These contributions came from other local communities in the Philippines and from abroad as well. Many individuals and groups donated books and provided financial assistance. The others even personally delivered their donations while others volunteered to be hands-on workers for the Project.

How can the other communities adopt this Project?

Plastic bottles, litter, and other similar products take 10 to 50 years before they decompose. They don’t even naturally belong in our ecosystem. They only end up becoming toxic waste in our air, water, and land. To solve this problem, we can only reduce the use of these plastic materials or put them to better use. This is where the eco-friendly projects like Plastic Library come in.

The Eco-friendly projects like Plastic Library can help motivate every home to practice proper waste management. The local government units should make this kind of projects among their priorities. They should raise awareness about the importance of proper waste management and of limiting the use of inorganic materials.

Also Read: Romblon: How Cobrador Island promotes Ecotourism
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