The Waste to Wealth program, started in 2012, has trained more than 300 women in northeastern Nigeria to recycle plastic waste into mats, bags and other colorful accessories. “This has really helped me. Now I can pay my children’s school fees, I can buy food for my family and also help my relatives,” says one woman. Another woman puts it: “We are working towards doing the right thing, so whenever we see plastic bags we pick them up; it has become a valuable thing now. Because of us there are few plastic bags in the streets compared to how it was before.”
The bags sell for between $3 and $47, depending on size and quality. “One woman made over $6000 because she was extremely good,” says the Waste to Wealth program coordinator. “She has bought land, she’s got a computer, and she has paid for her children’s schooling, so we’ve seen the economic benefits the women are having spread back through the community.”
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is struggling to find efficient ways of managing its waste problems just like countries around the world. Inventive initiatives like this tackle this problem as well as helping women find ways to earn an income and provide for their families. A win-win idea. What innovative solutions to waste problems in our own communities can we come up with?
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