PPR Pekan Kepong residents use their skills to repurpose materials

Nor Hilmi and a volunteer using polybags made from old banners to plant vegetables.

A RECYCLING workshop set up at the Pekan Kepong People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Kuala Lumpur was a hive of activity.

Members and volunteers of non-governmental organisation Persatuan Socio Ekonomi & Alam Sekitar (Perseas) were busy sewing items using recycled banners and bunting.

A lot of recycling and repurposing is carried out by residents here who are trained in urban farming.

Led by founder president Nor Hilmi Mohamed, 55, and his team of 20, the group has been working with Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), Local Agenda 21 (LA21) and SWCorp focusing on sustainable living in Kepong for two years now.

“DBKL allowed us to use the space (for the workshop) free of charge, ’’ he said.

When StarMetro visited the workshop, two volunteers were seen sewing old banners and bunting into aprons, tote bags, polybags, raincoats as well as personal protective equipment (PPE).

A PPR Pekan Kepong resident wearing a raincoat made from an old banner.A PPR Pekan Kepong resident wearing a raincoat made from an old banner.

Apart from selling the items at events and roadshows promoting recycling and sustainable living, the old banners and bunting are also recycled into polybags as alternative flower pots.

“Polybags are cheaper and easier to use for urban farming, ” Nor Hilmi said, adding that the bags were durable and punched with holes to allow water to drain.

“It can stand easily and is excellent for bedding plants and tree seedling for vegetables like chillies, cucumbers, tomatoes, as well as padi.

“We use the older and worn out banners and bunting to make the polybags, while the newer banners are reserved for making tote bags and raincoats, ’’ Nor Hilmi explained.

He said they sourced for older bags from the DBKL Kepong branch office, while the new ones were from event promoters and organisers.

“When the event is over, our volunteers will collect the banners to prevent them from ending up in landfills.

“These are strong enough to withstand rain and heat.

So, instead of letting them rot in the landfill, we recycle them, ’’ he said, adding that tote bags, vests, pencil cases and aprons were sold for between RM10 and RM15 each.

Apart from banners, old jeans and clothes are also repurposed at the workshop.

Nor Hilmi did not expect to be involved in sustainable living.

The Kepong resident recalled an eye-opening experience at the age of 19, when he participated in a river clean-up exercise.

“I took part in a Sungai Klang clean-up exercise with a Japanese NGO back then.

“I was shocked to see the things that were pulled out of the river that day, ’’ he said, adding that it changed his life for the better.

Since then, Nor Hilmi has been involved in various NGOs specialising in environmental issues and sustainable living.

“The idea is zero waste.

“Instead of food waste going to the landfill, it goes to composting.

“Old textile and vinyl banners will be recycled and sold.

“Our goal is to reduce the environmental impact these materials have on landfills, rivers and the air, ” he added.

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