(St. Rosario Multipurpose Cooperative, Philippines)

Rosaries made of paper beads
<Rosaries made of paper beads>

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.

Cutting Paper Cut Paper

Depending on the shape and the size of the paper bead that they want to make, the height and width of the slip differs, and the degree of the slant of the horizontal sides is also different. They roll the slip in different shapes, such as small and large globes, short and long ovals, cylinders, flat rectangles, and cuboids.

 04_oldmag 05_oldmag

Rolling non-slanted paper
<Rolling non-slanted paper>
Rolling side-slanted paper
<Rolling side-slanted paper>
See the difference in shape?
<See the difference in shape?>
They say that one woman can make 50 beads per hour. There are a lot of women in the community, who are not members of the group, who have tried to learn how to make paper beads from group members. However, not all of them continue to learn because making paper beads requires patience and manual dexterity. They need to practice a lot at home until they reach a level where the quality of the paper beads is high enough to be marketable.
Paper Beads
<Paper beads strung with thread>

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.”

The Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), which is a national government organization, coordinates training programs and trade fairs for the women’s group. Moreover, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) also provides technical assistance to the cooperative by sending trainers and organizing trade fairs. The women sell the paper bead accessories at trade fairs organized by DTI and some other public organizations. In addition, they have 10 outlets in the Philippines, including a five-star hotel in Manila, which proves their products are high quality.

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.

Package 1Package 2Package 3

In addition to paper bead accessories, this women’s group has started to “upcycle” old newspapers and telephone directories into bags. Below are the instructions on how to make bags from old telephone directories. They create bags in different designs. All look very nice! This is not just “recycling,” but “upcycling!”
1. Cut the paper.
1. Cut the paper.
2. Roll the slip.
2. Roll the slip.
3. Press the tube.
3. Press the tube.
4. Weave alternately.
4. Weave alternately.
5. Weave along the box.
5. Weave along the box.
6. Completed!
6. Completed!

31_bag32_bag33_bag34_bagCoop Members

“We are empowered with old papers!”