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Trashy Bags: Cleaning Up Ghana's Streets and Creating Jobs

by Katie Leavitt

Stuart Gold noticed a problem and decided to fix it. In doing so he has created a triple-win for the western African country of Ghana.

Plastic is everywhere in the capital city of Accra. The harmful effects of the material are not widely recognized or a cause for concern in the country. Wrappers and water sachets, which hold clean water and are sold in every store and used by everyone, fill the landscape. They clog the gutters and drains causing floods and get carried out into the ocean.

"There isn't a proper way of collecting waste and people aren't educated as to the problems of plastic waste, Gold told CNN. "The pure-water sachet is ubiquitous. When anyone wants water they can't drink tap water so they buy these sachets, even for their home. Once they've drunk the water they drop it in the street. You can see people drop them from their cars."

Gold realized that there was a business model in this situation, one that would clean up Accra, provide jobs and stimulate the economy, so he launched Trashy Bags, an NGO, nearly three years ago. Today, 150 people are helping to clean up the environment and making an income thanks to Gold.

Money is offered to those who collect plastic waste and bring it in to be turned into one of Trashy Bags' creations. The products are popular with tourists and Ghanaians, and are also exported to Japan, Germany and Denmark.

The collection of trash, alone, has instilled business-savvy in the community, and many people rely on it as their sole income. "One woman makes more money than any of our actual workers," Gold continued. "She organizes other women to collect and she pays them and she brings the sachets in."

While Trashy Bags is barely breaking even these days, Gold remains positive about the amount of education that is being passed on to the people of Accra, and all over Ghana. The understanding that plastic waste is harmful to the environment is slowly sinking in. Even the government has proposed a ban on plastic.

Gold explained, "They are gradually seeing there are problems other than just disease, and [polluting] the environment is one of them."

Photos courtesy of Trashy Bags.

This post originally appeared on Tonic.

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Comments

i find these works very inspiring especially as a Ghanaian who is interested in promoting such innovative works, I also came across another gentleman who does a similar thing, u can read about him here - http://ghtech.info/2010/04/29/accra-waste-materials-made-beautiful/ by the way thanks for this


Posted by: GHTech on 3 Jun 10

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