Written by Theresa Takafuma
Plastic waste is one type of waste that cannot be easily disposed of due to its inability to decompose like other wastes, reason why it is notorious for dirtying most of our streets at all times.
With so many initiatives of waste management having been put into place, some innovation might have put the plastic paper war to rest—by making plastic waste the most wanted type of waste because of its ability to make money.
Who would ever imagine the infamous Jiggies, Twiggles, Zapnax waste plastic packages are a hot product on the market of innovative women entrepreneurs?
Who would ever have thought their irritating colorfulness could be an added advantage?
Tired of grumbling over lack of entrepreneurial opportunities, health clubs have started taking action and they are making a living out of dirt and what has been rendered useless, in the process fighting the plastic waste war.
What started off as a social responsibility act for some women has turned out to be one of the most promising business moves in the country’s oldest urban settlement, Masvingo.
Uchapakuda Health club is one such group that has given hope to the education marginalized women in Masvingo urban’s Runyararo area.
Being unemployed and most probably unqualified for any kind of profession these women just responded to a call by the local authorities and EMA to clean up their area and help in the environmental management fight.
They started taking turns in voluntarily cleaning up the streets in their area and it is during that time that ideas were conceived of assembling a health club which would clean up the area once every week.
Since it sprang into life in 2011, the club now has 121active members who, every Thursday help in the cleaning up of the area, where they pick up plastic papers which they later weave into shopping baskets, bags and mats.
Some of the club members are as old as 70years and the club is also open for all age groups.
Recycling plastics is one of their major income generating projects and of late have been given a plastic dump site by Masvingo City Council where they will sort out the plastics which they will use in making bags, mats and other things.
Club Chairperson Gelly Sibanda says the club recently got a tender to supply waste plastic to a newly opened recycling company, Fispack and this will obviously change the fortunes of all these women.
“We have managed to lure women into this club through encouraging them to use their hands in making these things from recycled plastics. The more Jiggies plastics we get, the more money we make because our products fetch reasonable amounts of money.
“We try as much as possible to make the products look attractive and honestly we have seen talent in these women who previously just had to sit home and wait for their husbands, whilst they were doing nothing.
“Now in every member’s household, we have encouraged them to have organic composts from the waste they gather around, which are mainly used for gardening. Poultry projects are also at their peak around here,” she said.
Sibanda said some men have also joined the club seeing the good job they are doing and are really helping in the gathering of plastic paper.
In that part of Masvingo you cannot find a plastic paper in the street as Uchapakuda club members claim you cannot let money blow away like that because to them waste equals money
To them, plastic paper waste has become the most sought after raw material and this has reduced the local authority’s woes in cleaning up the area.
“We do not have to go and complain to the city council about unclean streets because cleaning on our own is an advantage as it allows us the opportunity to sort out our waste during picking.
“If we allow the city council to clean for us, we would have to follow to their dump sites to pick up the waste, which is a long process, so we do it ourselves.
The Masvingo City Council has also assigned one of its employees to teach them how to pick waste using the equipment they have provided whilst EMA and Care International have provided gloves, brooms and carts for this noble cause.
Having various clubs like these Masvingo is bound to be the next cleanest city and on the entrepreneurial side, well, the women have upped their sleeves in making money—making a living out of environmental management.