Credit: Junk Not!

Junk Not! is building a sustainable future in the Philippines

This interior design firm transforms plastic waste into original, colorful furniture – and provides a source of income for local communities.

This interior design firm transforms plastic waste into original, colorful furniture – and provides a source of income for local communities.

According to the WWF, and based on a 2015 study by the NGO The Ocean Conservancy, the Philippines is one of the world's five biggest contributors to plastic marine pollution.

Wanting to tackle the issue, and at the same time empower local communities, in 2009 Wilhelmina Garcia, a young interior designer, founded Junk Not!, an interior design firm.

Passionate about recycling and determined to make her country greener, the young woman uses design to serve the environment and society. "Junk Not! is my way of getting the idea across that there is no such thing as waste, only resources that have not yet found a use," says Wilhelmina Garcia in the Manila Times.

Small furniture and sustainable development

The products sold by Junk Not! - mainly chairs and stools - are handmade in small communities in the province of Laguna. The women collect plastic waste (shopping bags, packaging, etc.) before cleaning it and rolling it to make a fine cord.

The cord is the basic material in Wilhelmina Garcia's pretty "upcycled" chairs. Along with pieces of wood recovered from old houses which are used to make frames or legs, it is hand woven to give life to the characteristic Junk Not! seats and backs.

The company buys them from the communities, paying them 5% of sales. It doesn’t just provide them with a livelihood either. Junk Not! aims to develop independence and create opportunities within local communities - for example by transferring knowledge about plastic waste recovery techniques. And in addition it means local communities have a positive impact on their environment, are aware of pollution and learn how to sort their waste more efficiently.

Main picture: Credit Junk Not!

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