Buddhist temple builds refuge from refuse

by Chaiwat Subprasom, Reuters, Oct 20, 2008

SISAKET, Thailand -- A Thai Buddhist temple has found an environmentally friendly way to reach nirvana, using discarded bottles to build everything on the premises from a crematorium to toilets.

The Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew temple, about 600 km (370 miles) northeast of Bangkok, is better known as "Wat Lan Kuad" or "Temple of Million Bottles" because of the glittering from countless glass containers on the walls.

The temple first started using discarded bottles in 1984 to decorate the monks' shelters. This attracted more people to donate more bottles to build other buildings such as a pagoda, ceremony hall and toilets. Bottle tops were also used to decorate murals.

Many bottles and tops are from alcohol containers even though alcohol consumption is a sin in Buddhism.

"The more bottles we get, the more buildings we make," Abbot San Kataboonyo told Reuters.