Recycled goods turned into treasures for charity

The Upcycled Collection is an initiative to support the Philippine Community Fund, a charity which runs a school and livelihood programme for impoverished children and families in Manila's dumpsites.

Examples of the recycled jewellery being sold by the Phillippine Community Fund. Lee Hoagland / The National
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // Accessories and bags made from recycled glossy magazines, ring-pull tabs, fruit juice pouches, crisp packets and plastic bags are being snapped up fast by guests at the Centro Hotel and regular customers at a deli shop.

“These bags and purses are simple but very classy,” said Kate, 33, from Belarus, who picked up two purses made from aluminium ring-pulls for her friends.

“The silver classic purse is perfect for a cocktail party and the pink one has a more modern look,” she said. “I’m now thinking of buying a bracelet, necklace and earrings for myself.”

Centro Capitals Abu Dhabi launched "The Upcycled Collection" at two of its properties on May 21 to support the Philippine Community Fund (PCF), a UK-registered charity that provides education, food, health care and skills training to families living on dump sites in Manila's poorest slums, including Smokey Mountain.

The charity has a child-sponsorship programme that aims to end child labour and help children escape a life of poverty. It also supports the children's parents through a livelihood programme that provides an alternative to waste picking.

On display at the deli shop in Centro Capital Centre are glossy magazines turned into colourful bead bracelets, necklaces and earrings, with iPad cases, bangles and purses made from other throw-away items. The campaign ends on June 16.

“They’re not the usual handcrafted products that people would buy to support a charity,” said Louana Moulaeb, assistant marketing and communications director at Centro Capital Centre and Centro Al Manhal. “These items are of good quality and are not even pricey.”

The jewellery costs about Dh20 to Dh45. The collection of purses and bags made from ring-pulls has a price range of Dh150 to Dh320.

“We are certain that guests in the hotel will love the items and we are hoping that, through this sale, we will be able to contribute to building a better environment for the unfortunate,” said Dominique Richard Herbert, general manager of Centro Capital Centre Hotels.

Ronnie Espiritu, 47, a security manager and a frequent visitor to the deli shop, said he was “pleasantly surprised” that the products were all made in the Philippines.

“When I came to know that these products were made by my compatriots back home, I felt so proud,” he said. “My colleagues, who are from India, Lebanon and Syria were amazed by the craftsmanship and quality of the products.”

He said it was also touching to learn that Filipinos were being appreciated for their creativity, while the initiative showed the generosity of those who were willing to help needy children get an education and escape a life of poverty.

“The campaign not only shows how committed the hotel is to corporate social responsibility, but also to the environment by raising awareness about recycling,” said Kate, who has been staying at the Centro Capital Centre on Khaleej Al Arabi Street.

Staff working at the food outlets at the hotels are encouraged to keep and collect all the ring-pulls from soda cans.

Each ring tab has a value of 50 fils, according to non-profit charity Abu Dhabi Cause Connect, which launched a Recycle for a Cause campaign in November 2011 to support the PCF.

Jane Walker, chief executive of the PCF, said she hoped these initiatives would create more awareness of the conditions of families who live on the dump sites, and help them receive an income to survive in such a tough environment.

“We have had a number of students graduate from high school and all of them are in college or university,” she said. “PCF provides the pathway out of poverty for them but it’s their education and hard work to change their own future that is making the difference to their lives.