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Weaving recycled baskets, bags together regardless of race

  • The “Green Workshop” was set up by five like-minded friends. Tan Lee Choo is second from right. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • One of the “Green Workshop” members teaching Malay women how to weave baskets and bags. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The group was recently invited to share their knowledge of making recycled bags and baskets with local Malay women. Standing in the middle is Hasan, the person-in-charge at Sungai Air Tawar state constituency service center. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • The unrecyclable aluminium foil food packing bags have been given a new lease of life in the forms of eye-catching baskets and bags.. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
  • Besides baskets and bags, discarded aluminium foil plastic bags can also be turned into attractive water bottle holders. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

KLANG, September 19 (Sin Chew Daily) -- A group of middle-aged Chinese women in Sabak Bernam district of Selangor have decided that they should do something to help raise environment awareness in the local Malay society, by turning discarded aluminium foil plastic bags into stylish bags, baskets and water bottle holders.

Tan Lee Choo from the town of Sungai Besar was deeply attracted by the recycled bags sold by Tzu Chi while volunteering at a charity sale event at the home for the disabled in Hutan Melintang just across the river in Perak last year, and was resolved that she would learn how to make recycled bags.

The 56-year-old said Tzu Chi volunteers gave her a brief introduction to the making of recycled bags and even invited her to attend a course held at Tzu Chi's meeting hall in Hutan Melintang.

“The journey from Sungai Besar to Hutan Melintang took about 40 minutes, but luckily a sister was willing to give me a lift.”

She said she attended three lessons and then perfected her skill by searching the Internet.

WhatsApp group

Tan pointed out that she was later joined by four like-minded friends to weave recycled bags, and they even set up the “Green Workshop” WhatsApp group!

Later, she joined the fund raising campaign for Sungai Besar Buddhist Society, and sold her recycled bags at very low prices. Her products were well received by the people and some were even willing to pay her double as much.

“This gave me some confidence. I felt I could do more with this skill. Besides joining the campaign to raise funds for the construction of the Sungai Besar Buddhist Society building, I also tried to get friends around me to do with me for the sake of our environment.”

Promoting intercommunity relationship

Tan said the “Green Workshop” once had the opportunity to share their skill in making recycled bags with a group of women at Bagan Nakhoda Omar in Sabak Bernam district.

“A member's daughter who happens to be working at Sungai Air Tawar state constituency service center, felt that we could share our knowledge with the local Malay women not only to promote environment awareness but also interracial harmony.

“Although we don't speak much Malay, we somehow manage to get the message across by throwing in some Hokkien words and body language into the very limited Malay we know.

“We got along pretty well!” she added.

“However, not everyone is patient enough or willing to keep learning. Some of them will rather buy the baskets, bags or water bottle holders directly from us.”

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