Diamonds aren’t the only material that lasts forever—so does plastic.

Luckily, Taiwanese Da Ai Technology Co. converts about 2,000 tons of trash-destined bottles destined into blankets, T-shirts and suitcases.

Its history proves one of the most interesting parts of the company.

In 1966, Taiwanese Buddhist nun Cheng Yen founded the Tzu Chi Foundation.

Tzu Chi, which refers to the Buddhist notion of “compassionate relief,” has branches in 47 countries around the world.

Forty years later, the Da Ai (which means “Big Love”) Technology effort began by recycling bottles to make blankets for disaster victims.

Since then, proceeds have grown to generate over $10 million a year.

The charity uses these funds to help global disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 earthquake in Southern China.

Other portions support Tzu Chi’s Buddhist news and drama TV channel.

Their “employees” mark another unique aspect: the majority of its workers are volunteers.

Tens of thousands of people help in Da Ai’s 5,600 centers to help sort and prep the plastics for reuse.

The resulting garments, gadgets and bags are sold everywhere from Taipei to San Diego.

Though Tzu Chi’s revenue is high—$322 million last year—President and CEO James Lee focuses on healthy, non-destructive consumerism instead of getting rich:

“The point of Da Ai Technology’s sales is not to do trade but to use clothing to educate people that recycling plastic is great but not using it is better.”

So if you want to help the environment and the economy while shopping, or if you want to learn more about the organization, check out Da Ai’s website.

Photos via Da Ai official website; feature image via