AS recycling becomes a global trend, a growing number of people in Zambia are creating income on products they are making from pre-used items.
While many are only beginning to appreciate the economic rewards of recycling, 40-year-old Florence Chileshe, a resident of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, has benefited substantially from selling custom-made handbags, purses as well as pouches for phones using used plastic carrier bags.
Aside from a few local clients, Chileshe, a widow with four children, boasts of a large number of local and international customers many of whom purchase her products through a woman’s cooperative she belongs to.
‘I earn more from handbags which cost between 200 and 500 Zambian Kwacha (about $9 and $22) apiece. This is something that I have been doing for over 10 years and it has enabled me to provide for all of my children’s needs,” she said.
Another Lusaka-based recycling enthusiast Jessy Zulu-Kamuyuwa, is among a growing number of individuals that are maximising opportunities presented by an array of recyclable products.
Zulu-Kamuyuwa, aged 37, collects used wine bottles, old vehicle tyres and towels fabrics from which she makes ornaments and seats among other things, something that she has been doing for close to two years now.
‘I make flower pots using old bath towels. I also make coffee tables and lounge seats using old vehicle tires. And I use old wine bottles to make decor,’ she explained.
She also revealed that she earns some substantial income from the said items whose prices vary but range from 100 to 1,000 Zambian Kwacha, with lounge chairs costing more than the rest of the items.
Apart from making and selling products made from pre-used items, Zulu-Kamuyuwa also actively participates in raising awareness about environmental sustainability activities in her community.
And 18-year-old Marthar Phiri of Kalingalinga compound in Lusaka who at the time of speaking to her had just learned how to make necklaces, earrings and wristbands using old hardcopy newspapers and magazines said recycling ventures can help to reduce unemployment levels among young people in Zambia.
Recycling is said to be a key component of modern waste reduction and is the third component of the ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ waste hierarchy.
It can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing energy usage, air pollution from burning waste, and water contamination through landfills and improper waste disposal.
Experts note that recycling, if properly managed, can not only help to rid communities of waste materials but also provide alternative employment opportunities.