(St. Rosario Multipurpose Cooperative, Philippines)
In 2008, 10 female members of a multi-purpose cooperative with a membership of about 1,600 in Valenzuela, which is located in the suburbs of Manila, Philippines, started to make rosaries out of plastic beads. A rosary is a chain of beads with a cross at the center. Catholics use rosaries, grasping them around their wrists when they pray. Those 10 female members used to make rosaries only for themselves, not to sell.
One day, the chairperson of the cooperative said, “Why don’t we make our hand-made rosaries the identity of our cooperative? If we could make rosaries out of paper beads, not plastic beads, by recycling old magazines and calendars, that would be good for the environment, reducing the amount of garbage in the community.” The cooperative provided some financial support for the group of 10 women, and they began to make paper beads out of old magazines and calendars, having participated in a technical training program provided by the Valenzuela municipal government. Gradually, the cooperative began to be known as a paper beads rosary cooperative.
As of February 2012, twenty women were engaged in paper beads production. They collect old magazines and calendars from their neighbors. The old magazines and calendars are free. The women select slightly thicker paper, not thin paper, from the old magazines and calendars. They put a ruler on the paper, and cut it into a long slip starting a little wide and gradually narrowing by the other end. They roll it from the wider to the narrower side.
Most women make paper beads at home. After making paper beads, they connect the beads with a thread. They bring the connected ones to the cooperative, where they soak the beads in varnish and dry them under the sun. The members choose various beads made of other material that the cooperative has bought in bulk, and take them back home with varnished paper beads to create accessories, combining both paper and other beads in an attractive manner.
They make curtains and accessories such as necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They design the accessories by themselves, pondering how to combine paper beads with other material for accent. All are very beautiful! We should not say that they are recycling old magazines and calendars. They raise the level of value of old magazines and calendars, and produce high-quality products by recycling old paper. We should call it “upcycling.”
They buy packaging materials from other groups that are making gift boxes and bags. They are all made of plant materials. The cooperative women are satisfied, and other group members are also satisfied. This is a win-win relationship, maintaining effective business links.
“We are empowered with old papers!”