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SMHCC’s Tela Tales: Linen waste to new beginnings

Sometimes, a simple idea can spark a change. This happened when Zarah Juan, a social entrepreneur known for her eco-friendly designs, approached SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. (SMHCC) with a proposal. “I pitched the idea. I said, ‘You have so many linens that we can upcycle. ‘ And I’m glad that every opportunity with SM that they can take to be more sustainable, they really listen. So, it’s a match,” Zarah shared.

Her idea was to transform the hotel’s old linens into stylish bags, giving the fabric a second life and providing livelihoods for local communities. This partnership marked the start of Tela Tales, a project that breathes new life into discarded linens.

Launched on World Recycling Day, March 18, Tela Tales is more than just recycling; it’s about telling stories through fabric, or “tela,” and creating positive change.

Hotels change their linens every few years, resulting in much waste. Leah Magallanes, vice president for Quality and Sustainability at SMHCC, saw this as a challenge and an opportunity. “Every two to three years, hotels change their linen. That is a solid waste we must also be responsible for,” Leah said. By teaming up with Zarah Juan, they turned this solid waste into fashionable bags, engaging 41 women volunteers.

The event where Tela Tales was launched, dubbed “SMHCC Road to Zero,” highlighted SMHCC’s commitment to zero waste, among other sustainability goals. It wasn’t just about introducing a product; it was a celebration of creativity, community and sustainability.

How did the name come about? One afternoon in Taal Vista Hotel, shared by Magallanes, “I invited the women to sew in Taal.” She offered to play music for them as a source of entertainment.

One woman declined as the group needed to focus and be professional. Instead, Magallanes recalled, “We were sewing and making kwentong buhay.” As the women worked on the linens, they shared their life stories, making the sewing session a moment of connection and inspiration.

But Tela Tales is just one thread in the larger fabric of SMHCC’s sustainability efforts. Magallanes doesn’t shy away from the corporation’s ambitious targets. With a portfolio that boasts names like Taal Vista Hotel and Conrad Manila, SMHCC has more in the pipeline for new hotels and convention centers.

Tela Tales project has upcycled 784 yards and counting and given livelihood to 41 volunteers

Regarding SMHCC’s expansion, Magallanes said, “There’s a lot of responsibility towards those numbers. I have a little fun fact — I’m sure you don’t know this — every time you check in a hotel, you use up one kilo of waste. That’s one kilo!”

She shared that if she were to compute their occupancy in the next five years, “We are responsible for 2,600 tons of solid waste.” This is why SMHCC is serious about protecting the environment and partnering with organizations like Hope Water, Greenspace PH, Green Trident Services and Diversey Philippines. Through these partnerships, they’ve done a lot of good in the last 10 years of SMHCC’s sustainability journey:

• They gave P300,000 to help build schools and got rid of over 7,100 kg of plastic waste since 2022, keeping it out of nature.

• They recycled more than 253 kg of used soap bars into new ones.

• They managed to compost about 198,640 kg of food waste with a unique bokashi method.

• They also recycled over 10,000 kg of paper and 2,000 kg of plastic into eco-friendly products like Papel ni Juan recycled paper and Poly al Eco Boards.

• Since July 2023, Taal Vista Hotel has been using a gadget called the Orca Biodigester from Dunbrae Philippines to keep 11,672 kg of food waste out of landfills.

Another part of the launch was The Sustainable Diner menu: Arancini made with Glutinous Rice, Tagaytay mushrooms and Laguna kesong puti with malunggay pesto; pancit buko with cabbage, lettuce, carrots, and jicama; poached maliputo with roasted squash puree; pavlova with calamansi curd, chantilly and pineapple calamansi compote.

All these actions show SMHCC’s significant steps towards a cleaner planet. Tela Tales is just one example of how businesses and social entrepreneurs can work together to tackle environmental challenges. It shows that, with creativity, commitment and collaboration, we can find innovative solutions to sustainability issues and make a real difference.

This initiative is not just about recycling old linens; it’s about crafting stories of hope and resilience, one bag at a time. Beyond the hotel industry, it’s a reminder that every one of us can play a part in making our planet a better place. Through Tela Tales, SMHCC and Zarah Juan are showing the way forward, proving that sustainability and style can go hand in hand.

Magallanes said, “The launch of Tela Tales, complemented by Sustainable Diner, marks a significant milestone in SMHCC’s Sustainability journey. It is a testament to the company’s relentless commitment to move the needle one linen and one plate at a time.”

Credit belongs to : www.philstar.com

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