Wednesday, Apr 14

Volunteers turn sock ends into rugs, covers

October 19, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Despite her disability, recycling volunteer Violeta Picar is able to make rugs and covers with ease. The variety of colors of looplines allows her to make many unique designs. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • Through Tzu Chi’s long-time advocacy of “turning garbage into gold,” donated looplines from a sock factory are turned into rugs and covers with some weaving. Not only would the sale of these items help fund Tzu Chi’s activities, it would also provide the volunteers with an extra income.


In the spirit of “turning garbage into gold,” Tzu Chi turns yet another type of discarded product into a livelihood opportunity.

Recycling volunteers from Barangays Old Balara and Pasong Tamo, Quezon City have found another use for discarded sock looplines. With skillful weaving, they are able to produce rugs, welcome mats, table covers, and even mattress covers. They plan to sell these items as soon as they produce enough, with mats going for Php25 and mattress covers for Php200 to Php250. Part of the proceeds will go to funding Tzu Chi’s activities, with the rest going to the volunteers based on piecework.

The looplines are used to make the toe ends of socks. Its elasticity allows volunteers to weave one after another with relative ease. Tzu Chi received 68 sacks of the material, donated by the owner of a sock factory. According to Tzu Chi volunteer Sally Yuñez, the donor was inspired to donate the materials after attending one of the foundation’s orientations, which featured parts of the Water Repentance Text stage adaptation.

“Actually, her company was selling [the trims]. But when she knew that [Tzu Chi] is an NGO, she said maybe she can donate. We have people who like to learn how to weave and produce [the rugs],” narrated Yuñez.

Every weekend, 18 recycling volunteers gather at the Tzu Chi Marikina Educational Recycling Center (TCMERC) to produce the rugs and covers. The session on October 19 is their third gathering.

With the looplines coming in various colors, the volunteers are not limited by their imagination. Even 66-year-old Violeta Picar, with crooked fingers on her left hand, has managed to produce eye-catching designs.

“We’ll be able to make a living doing these. There are no [equipment] involved except for your hands,” said Picar, who has lived with her disability for almost a decade.

The activity is an opportunity for retired folks like 68-year-old Jose Obligacion, who used to work as a janitor, to continue making a living. He doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life idling at home. It’s his first time joining the activity.

“I came here to learn how to make a mat like this one. I’m thankful to [Tzu Chi] for teaching us how to make these. This way, we can help others,” said Obligacion.

Beyond collection and segregation, Tzu Chi’s recycling advocacy promotes turning recyclable materials into useful items. Plastic bottles, for instance, can turn into a variety of items like clothing and blankets. This way, the materials don’t end up in saturated landfills, or clogging waterways that cause flooding.

The activity alone, says Tzu Chi volunteer Woon Ng, has other businessmen considering the possibility of donating other reusable items to the foundation.

“[The donor] told us that if we can create a beautiful program out of this, they would invite and encourage more businessmen like them to donate scraps like these,” said Ng.

  • Tzu Chi volunteer Sally Yuñez (left) inspects the work of recycling volunteers. They plan to sell their products soon, with part of the proceeds going to fund Tzu Chi’s works. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Volunteers remove loose thread from the finished rugs. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • A sack contains hundreds of looplines in various colors. The supply comes from a donor who runs a sock factory. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • As this is his first time to join the activity, Jose Obligacion (middle) pays attention to the weaving lesson using looplines. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Violeta Picar (middle) helps out fellow volunteers in making rugs of their own. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】