Trash is Not Trash Until it is Wasted

NOTE: This is a guest post from Brett Gerstein, Online Communications Manager of Aid for Africa.

Many of us recycle our bottles and waste without ever seeing the tangible benefits. Although recycling is practiced far less commonly in Sub Sahara Africa, the recycling efforts of two Aid for Africa members are having profound effects on the communities they serve.

In the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, Aid for Africa member Carolina for Kibera’s Trash is Cash program employs 35 youths to collect four tons of trash each week from some 2,000 households. Because there is no formal sanitation program, the trash would be scattered in the area and lead to health and environmental problems. The trash is brought to two recycling centers. One employs 20 youth, who convert paper and sawdust into low-cost alternative fuel briquettes. The other center sorts, collects and makes pellets from plastics for sale to local industries. The program also works with local women’s groups, who turn plastic bags into retail products like purses, and with artists, who turn bones discarded from local butcheries into jewelry they sell.

Since 1997, Aid for Africa member Planet Aid has collected about 160 million pounds of donated used clothing and shoes, which would  otherwise end up in landfills, from more than13,000 drop-off bins in the United States. The items are then sold to fund international aid and development projects. In Angola, Mozambique and Malawi, for example, Planet Aid has funded teacher training programs for some 2,400 new teachers and has helped close the gap in primary school teachers. In Zambia, Planet Aid built thousands of latrines to prevent the spread of disease.  In Botswana, thousands of children left orphaned by HIV-AIDS receive educational programs, entertainment, and participate in sports through local youth clubs.

In Sub Saharan Africa, recycling programs are not just about rejuvenating waste, they are also rejuvenating lives.

This was originally posted on the Aid for Africa blog here.

Aid for Africa is a unique partnership of some 80 select charities, all dedicated to solving the complex, inter-related challenges facing Africa. Our members realize that, as effective as they each are on their own, they can be even more powerful when they approach Africa’s issues as a group.

Aid for Africa works with its partners on the ground in Africa to find solutions to the education, health, development, and wildlife challenges facing the region. Whether we are distributing books to school children, introducing medical strategies to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, supporting small businesses for women, or finding new approaches to protect endangered elephants and lions, Aid for Africa is working to build a better future for Africa’s children, families, and communities.

Photo credit: Planet Aid


Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle5 years ago

I love the title of the article. Reuse. Recycle. like our grandparents did. You can find a use for most things, and share with neighbors -- you don't have to buy new.

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe5 years ago

Aid for Africa sounds like they are doing some great work.
Thanks for making us aware of what they are doing.

paul m.
paul m5 years ago

I always like to reuse

patricia m lasek
patricia lasek5 years ago

Reduce, reuse & recycle!

Brian M.
Past Member 5 years ago

Reduce consumption and thus, reduce waste production. Reuse everything that you can; think up new uses for old products and packaging. Recycle everything that you can't reuse. And, of course, if it is biodegradable, then compost it.

Laura M.
Past Member 5 years ago

Nice. Thanks!

Hugh W.
.5 years ago

Fantastic!!! I would like to see something like that here in Nigeria. It is absolutely needed.

Heather M.
Heather Marvin5 years ago

Both clever and creative ways to use rubbish created by ingenius minds.

Meta R.
Meta Reid5 years ago

Hooray for our planet! Thanks for the article.

Jack R.
Jack R.5 years ago

Trash can often be anothers persons riches