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Lydia Casiano: From Waste Picker to Eco-Warrior

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

A Women's Month Feature

Meet Lydia Casiano, a hardworking mother, wife, and resident of a small community in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Every day, she wakes up early to prepare breakfast for her family, tend to their small store, and sell plastic waste to buyers in town. Lydia is one of the many waste pickers in her community, collecting and selling recyclable materials to provide for her family and help keep the environment clean.

Lydia’s journey as a waste collector began when she started picking up scrap metals to sell for extra income. When buyers for plastics entered the market, she began collecting them as well, selling them at a higher price than metals. With her husband as the sole breadwinner for their family, Lydia needed to find a way to supplement their income to support their growing family. Thus, she became a waste picker, or as she calls herself, an Eco-Warrior.

For Lydia, the challenge in her family is poverty. They need to push themselves to live, and she believes that becoming physically fit in continuously executing all her responsibilities is essential to being a good example to others. As a mother, wife, and leader of her community group, Samahan ng mga Mamamaya ng Jacana (SMJ), Lydia faces the challenge of juggling her responsibilities while continuously inspiring others to value cleanliness and the environment.

Lydia has been aware of the problem of garbage in her city since she was 14 years old. She saw plastics being blown away by the wind, litter scattered on the streets, and trash bins overflowing with garbage. She felt ashamed to see this problem in her city, and it inspired her to participate in the small task of gathering and selling plastics to help her city.

Through her work as a waste collector and Eco-Warrior, Lydia has seen the changes in her community’s environment. She has witnessed how people have learned to clean their surroundings and have developed a sense of responsibility for taking care of their environment. Before, people did not have this sense of responsibility, and it was a total mess all around. Today, people who are caught throwing their trash carelessly are charged for such behaviour.

She wants her community to know that waste collectors are not the poorest members of society. If an Eco-Warrior is really serious about this kind of job, they can earn enough for their family to live comfortably with all their needs. As a mother, Lydia hopes for her children to finish their studies, learn the value of cleanliness, and stay healthy by eating the right food.

Lydia is excited about the training provided by Eco Kolek because it empowers waste collectors like her. The lectures on Servant Leadership give them additional knowledge and help them do their job better. The training has taught her how to classify waste and different ways of doing it, giving her confidence in her work as an Eco-Warrior.

For Lydia, the SMJ community means a lot because she cannot do it alone. She believes that they must help each other to accomplish their dreams for their community. She is an inspiring figure, a reminder that even the smallest effort can make a big difference. Her dedication to her family and community, and her commitment to protecting the environment, make her a true Eco-Warrior.

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