Written by Reuters
23 Jul, 2019 | 2:10 pm
Reuters – Cambodian Ouk Vanday is on a mission to put the piles of discarded rubbish around his neighbourhood to good use. He has built a cafe using stacks of beer bottles to make up a wall, and dead leaves to spell out the coffee shop’s name — ‘Rubbish Cafe’.
Vanday, 32, hopes by featuring rubbish collected from various places in an eye-catching way, people will become more aware of the amount of waste they generate and take steps to reduce it.
For a cup of coffee, customers can pay either 6,000 riels ($1.50) or 100 plastic cups, which will go towards building his cafe and some other projects. Vanday also encourages people to bring their own cups to get a 30% discount.
“This sends a message to other shop owners to think beyond just making a profit, and to look at the big impact trash has on their communities and the world — how it affects nature and how it worsens nature, how it affects the younger generation,” Vanday, a former hotel manager, said.
It’s not Vanday’s first foray into ‘upcycling’ — turning rubbish into something useful. In 2013, he built his first ‘Coconut School’ on the outskirts of Phnom Penh to teach young children English and to spread awareness about good waste management. Students pay in recyclable rubbish.
Still in the early stages, Vanday’s cafe has not received any customers who have collected the required amount of rubbish to exchange for a cup of coffee, but Vanday is optimistic.
“Opening a coffee shop like this is very good for our environment and it helps our economy too,” said a 24-year-old customer, Sovan Sinbou.
About 8 million tonnes of plastic make their way to the ocean each year, with four of the five worst ocean polluters in Southeast Asia — Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, according to a 2015 report co-authored by environmental campaigner Ocean Conservancy.
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