So as some of my readers may know from a previous blog post I was lucky enough to go on a field trip to Ghana at University. The trip was based at the University of Accra where we worked alongside the Regional Institute of Population Studies and undertook data collection, analysis and then presented our findings to our home University. During the trip we visited ‘Trashy Bags’ which is a social enterprise that makes beautiful recycled eco-friendly bags and gifts from plastic rubbish to sell locally and for export. The creation of Trashy Bags was predominantly to give local people employment particulary pregnant women or women with young children who find it hard to find work as well as providing a way to sustainable development in Africa. I, therefore, found my visit to trashy bags very interesting so I wanted to tell you more about the great work they do and how you can get involved.
Anyone who knows me well will know how much of a hoarder I am and how I find any excuse of how I can recycle anything I keep in order to avoid waste so as you can imagine the works of Trashy Bags really excited me. Trashy bags make a large range of accessories from discarded advertising billboards and water sachets from the streets of Ghana. This means that each product they make is completely unique in its design and colour and is also handmade with african print linings. During my time there I explored the shop and was given a tour of the production line. It was amazing to see how their products are made but what was more touching was meeting the wonderful employees which so clearly love doing what they do and the skills they are gaining. A lot of the female workers were pregnant or had their babies with them which demonstrates the efforts Trashy bags make to enable female employees to be able to earn an income whilst maintaining a work-life balance.
Trashy bags employ over 40 local people to collect, clean and sew plastic rubbish to turn them into fashionable and useful products. The plastic that is collected is sachets that have contained drinking water and other drinks that cause a huge problem across Africa due to its mass consumption alongside a lack of recycling progams and waste management infrastructure. Every month this network of people collect nearly 200,000 plastic sachets for trashy bags to use. To date they have collected and recycled approximately 20 million plastic sachets since they were established in 2007. On their website you are able to meet all their production staff which is a lovely touch to be able to see the faces behind the amazing work.
The water sachets form their most iconic item, the ‘Trashy Smart Bag’ which with the help of funding is stocked in major supermarkets across Accra. The bag is individually made out of roughly 70 old water sachets and can hold up to 18 kilos. The bag is sold in supermarkets at an affordable cost for locals to give the bag value to ensure it will be reused. The smart bags are a vital way of educating the local community about recycling and creating awareness about trashy bags work.
Social enterprises like Trashy Bags are vital in their contribution towards Africa’s development so I hope to see their hard work continue to prosper. They produce a large array of accessories including shoulder bags, laptop bags, travel bags, purses and many more. Head over to their online shop to have a look at their wonderful creations and choose your unique item to add to your closet whilst contributing to Africa’s path to sustainable development! They sell their products in the Euro, US dollar and the UK pound so there is no reason not to shop!
If your interested in hearing more about their initiative head over to their blog.