Saving our planet; one bag at a time

January 28, 2009

Turning trash into bags

Entrepreneur Stuart Gold runs a successful business turning trash from the streets of Ghana into trendy fashion accessories.

“Our bags are complete trash”, runs the fairly appropriate tagline for Gold’s company, Trashy Bags that turns discarded plastic bags into useful and attractive bags for sale locally and for export.

On account of the undrinkable tap water in Ghana, consumers purchase several plastic sachets of ‘pure water’ daily. The sachets are thrown away after use and abundantly litter the streets of west Africa.

In the capital Accra alone, waste produced from plastic packaging was projected to reach an average of 60 tons per day in 2008. That adds up to 22,000 tons of plastic in one year. This figure has risen in just ten years by about 70%. Despite this rise, it is estimated that only 2% of plastic waste is recycled. The remaining ends up on the streets, choking drains and increasing the risk of disease.

While Trashy Bags does its bit to clean up the environment, it also works on awareness campaigns on what they call the 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Besides that, it employs and trains many people from Madina, a poor community in Accra, who would have otherwise been unemployed.

Around 200 people work at Trashy Bags to collect, clean and sow the garbage together into tote bags, sports bags, backpacks and other varieties of bags. The people of Ghana also pitch in by collecting the discarded plastic and bringing it to designated collection points. They earn a token amount per 1000 plastic bags.

So far, around 10 million sachets have been collected from the streets and over 6,000 bag have been sold through this enterprise.

We also tried an experiment of this kind. See www.badlani.com/recycle. We’ve had to shelve that exercise for the time being but plan to restart an effort in that direction fairly soon.

Meanwhile we laud everyone doing good work that saves the world from plastic junk.

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