Neighboring Sustaining

Woof! The Ultimate Recycling Project

Recycling. You probably do plenty of it every day. We’re all familiar with the idea of reusing and recycling wherever we can.

But some people take that idea further. And a handful of individuals end up with an idea that can save lives. In this case, an idea that can improve the lives of stray dogs.

Ajarn Yossaphon Chanthongjeen, a design student based in Thailand, came up with a project called Stand for Strays. Accurate figures are difficult to find, but it’s believed there are around 800,000 stray dogs across Thailand. One source suggests there could be many more, maybe even millions. However, that figure includes stray cats too – all of which struggle to find shelter when the weather turns against them.

Chanthongjeen decided to make the most of materials that might otherwise never see a second life. He came up with the idea to build shelters using old billboards, giving the dogs somewhere safe and dry to sleep whenever they need it. The base of the billboard is angled to allow for runoff when it rains. The design is simple yet effective enough to be quick and easy to put together. It also folds down when not needed.

This means the shelters can be erected wherever they’re needed most. All that’s required is a wall or fence to attach them to. They can be up and usable in minutes. Stand for Strays also provides further information about the shelters – and how to help the problem of stray dogs in Thailand – on each of them.

That’s not all though. Strays never know when they can expect their next meal, so the design includes space for Stand for Strays (and good-hearted locals) to provide food and water. This superb idea for a shelter suits all urban settings throughout Thailand. It could also be replicated with ease throughout the world.

Stand for Strays also runs other programs that help stray dogs, including providing essential vaccinations to keep them healthy. They also spay or neuter them as appropriate, thereby helping to reduce the number of stray dogs born onto the streets. You can find and follow the work done by Stand for Strays on Facebook. Such things can come from initially small yet powerful ideas.

As with many other successful projects that change lives – and indeed the world around us – there is a simplicity and appeal in this one. Materials that would otherwise go to landfill are given a second life. This is repurposing on a simple – yet grand – scale. It directly helps stray animals seeking shelter, so they can stay in the shade during a heatwave and keep out of the rain. If we were to use this to help stray dogs in other parts of the world with a similar problem, who knows how many dogs could be helped?

This isn’t just about sustainability – it’s about sustaining life and making it better for animals in less-than-perfect surroundings. Let’s hope it continues.

-Allison Whitehead

Photo: StandForStrays/Facebook

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