I am very much happy to write something about a very good friend I have met while we were volunteering together during the first few months after typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan left our country devastated. Luckily, when I moved back to Manila, we realized we were neighbors that we started hanging out in his place. In one of my visits, he showed me his new-found love: recycled bottles! From that time on, I have seen him improve and grow into a beautiful soul that reflects on every piece of bottle he gets to recycle.
As an active volunteer for Greenpeace Philippines, Ian Sarra has been introduced to a new world where he became more aware of the different environmental issues we have been facing. Being a volunteer for environmental causes has been fun and full of adventures where he acquired new skills, connected and made friends with the people he has been meeting along the way.
Just recently, Ian has been inspired to embark on another direction to make something out of used bottles. But like most people who got to discover their purpose in life, his new passion to make art through bottles was triggered when his partner got a stroke and had to be admitted to the hospital last year. During this time, a friend of his partner who owns Detoxify Bar suggested for them to do alternative healing through vegetable detox concoctions. For a week, his partner received 5 bottles a day from their friend.
Instead of throwing them away, Ian was fascinated with the shape of each bottle that he bought some copper wire and started drawing some designs as soon as his partner recovered. He was able to recreate the bottles into art with stories inspired by his partner’s health condition: suffering, medication, renewed lifestyle, rehabilitation, recovery and how their relationship was made stronger by all these changes that happened in their lives together.
Through social media, he started to share his new hobby with their family and friends who gave him positive comments and encouraged him to do more. With the things he learned as a volunteer, he has been aware of the improper waste disposal done by most people that he decided to contribute in his own way by collecting used bottles in his community. He showed his neighbors what he has been doing with the bottles and explained his plans. As a positive response, his neighbors were more than willing to give him their used bottles. Since then, his neighbors would send him a message and he would collect them door to door.
He is very much thankful to his family who have always been there to support him in his creative way of helping the environment and spreading the word to their friends. They are his inspiration in making some of his first bottle art. And most especially to his partner who is both his critic and number one supporter as he grows beautifully with his recycled bottles.
His recycled bottles have been made both for aesthetic and home use. With his previous experience working in a cruise ship as a secretary to the chef, Ian is also inspired to recreate the bottles into something they can use for the kitchen. Since he and his partner both love to cook for themselves and their friends, his first set of bottles have been hanging around their own kitchen. Their own place is decorated with things that other people would usually dispose of – from old magazines as their wallpaper, labels of old clothes, keys and locks, pull tabs of cans, his partner’s MRI turned into a lampshade up to his old mountain bike which is now hanging on the ceiling.
“Everything is connected. Giving importance to things no matter how small or big they are will lead into something bigger than what you expect, not just for yourself but for everybody else,” Ian shared. “Since the time I have started making art through these bottles — friends, friends of my friends and even establishments that serve beverage in bottles have reached out to me to turn their bottles into something useful. I have been meeting so much people through my bottles and it’s really overwhelming in a good way!”