By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

According to a report released by the Senate of the Philippines, Metro Manila is the top producer of waste as its population of 12 million people generated 9,212.92 tons per day of wastes in 2016 alone. 

When combined with the numbers from other regions, the total amount of waste that the country produced in 2016 reached 40,087.45 tons. 

Meanwhile, the World Bank estimates that solid waste produced by Philippine cities will increase to 77,776 tons per day from its initial 29,315 tons as a consequence of a projected 47.3-percent hike in urban population. 

A business that aims to resolve these numbers is Silent Beads PH, a local specialty store that sells plantable paper products to help residents reduce the waste that comes from their homes or establishments. 

“Our goal is to encourage more and more people to grow their own food and inspire them towards a green and sustainable lifestyle,” said Monnick Cruz, the founder and chief innovator of Silent Beads PH. 

Their mission is to “Save Mother Earth Twice” by  delaying the accumulation of paper wastes through recycling and by promoting tree planting and gardening. 

“We envision Silent Beads as a leading protagonist on environmental protection through less paper waste and growing more plants and trees,” Cruz said. 

From jewelry to seeds

Cruz shared that Silent Beads started in 2009 as a passion-based business in fashion jewelry which eventually led to online selling. 

“As fashion jewelry artists for eight years, we’ve encountered problems in disposing excess materials and worn out pieces. The same challenge was experienced by our clients and other designers. Looking at the bigger picture, the global waste problem has been on the rise and we are yet to have a solid solution,” she said. 

Silent Beads came to the realization of the increasing damage to the environment and the earth as a whole caused by plastics of which materials for bead crafting and jewelry-making belong.

The shop’s has an advocacy called ‘Save Mother Earth Twice.’

“We resolved to switch courses and use eco-friendly materials to promote awareness of saving Mother Earth. Thus was born the Seed Paper, an environmental friendly advocacy using recycled brown-paper with embedded seeds,” Cruz said. 

Through the advocacy, the public was given the opportunity to donate their used brown paper bags to Cruz and her colleagues. In return, the Silent Beads team would give the donors seed paper tokens.

Seed papers are made from recycled brown paper bags.

“Because of this initiative, more and more people learned about our advocacy and supported us by switching to our plantable paper products,” Cruz said. 

Planting paper 

Silent Beads’ products all start with the seed paper which is created from recycled brown paper that is torn into small pieces and reduced to a pulp before adding water and seeds to form the material into paper using a mold.

Originally a jewelry-maker, Cruz transitioned her business into one that benefits the environment and lessens waste.

“This process is basic to all of our products like the plantable coasters, packaging materials, boxes and others,” said the store’s founder and chief innovator. 

Default seeds found in their plantable paper products include spinach, because it is tiny and easy to sprout, basil, parsley, dill, chives, arugula, mustard, and carrots. For their plantable coasters, Silent Beads PH offer vegetable seeds such as cucumber, okra, kangkong, sitaw, and tomatoes. 

“We also use sunflower seeds by request,” Cruz said.

Using the plantable products is easy. Simply tear off a piece of the seed paper, plant in soil, and watch the seeds grow.

To use their products, simply tear the paper into small pieces, bury them in soil, sprinkle with some water and watch them grow! However, like most plants, it is important to give the seeds the appropriate amount of water and exposure to sunlight. 

Not only does this slow down the accumulation of paper wastes in dumpsites and prevents more cutting of trees, it also saves Mother Earth twice by turning these wastes into other unique items that grow into plants when thrown away.

For more information, visit @silentbeadsph on Instagram or Silent Beads on Facebook