Woman displays her handmade soda tab jewelry

Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Intricate push tab jewelry
A worker arranges a display of products constructed from aluminum can push tabs on June 13 at the Philippine Christian Foundation (PCF) building in Manila.


In the midst of the infamous Smokey Mountain garbage dump, the most notorious slum in the Philippines, the foundation  has transformed lives by employing residents to produce and sell one-of-a-kind fashion items. 


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Handful of soda tabs

Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Trash to treasure

A worker grasps a handful of scavenged push tabs before they are incorporated into top-end fashion items.


Slum residents are hired to scour the Smokey Mountain garbage dump in Manila's chaotic bayside Tondo district for aluminum cans with push tabs, which are then brought back to be upcycled at the Philippine Christian Foundation (PCF), an organization that Walker founded 16 years ago to help improve the lives of residents of the Manilla slum. Walker first visited the slums on a 1996 vacation. She recognized the need to help residents escape the poverty cycle by providing education, health care, skills training and more.


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Crowns made of soda tabs

Photo: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Upcycled lampshades

A pair of gold and silver push tab lampshades are held up by a worker at the PCF. The handmade fixtures will be sold for about $90 (U.S.) and will benefit the organization's programs.


The Smokey Mountain garbage dump contains more than 2 million metric tons of waste and is home to a squatter slum with a population of about 30,000 people. Smokey Mountain derives its name from its well-known reputation of catching fire due to high temperatures resulting from rapid trash decomposition.


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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.