Plastic Collection and Upcycling at Okuru Ama
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Plastic Collection and Upcycling at Okuru Ama

BY JOY NWAIWU 15/01/2023 - 4 MINS READ

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the devastating effects of plastic pollution on our environment, it is important that we take action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics and find ways to repurpose them. The iRecycle team, in partnership with Dini’s Art House, recognized the need for such action in the Okuru Ama community and organized a collection and upcycling event to recover plastic bottles while educating and inspiring the community on the potential of upcycling.

What does it mean to upcycle plastic bottles?

Upcycling is the process of taking a material or product that would otherwise be considered waste and repurposing it into a new, more valuable item. When it comes to plastic bottles, upcycling is a powerful tool for reducing waste and protecting the environment. By repurposing these bottles, they are given a second life and continue to serve a useful purpose.

In addition to its many benefits, upcycling also promotes creativity and innovation, as we will see through the projects below. By discovering new ways to repurpose plastic bottles, individuals and groups are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with unique and practical solutions to waste. This fosters a sense of pride and ownership in people, as they are able to see the positive impact of their actions come to life.

Collecting and upcycling plastics in Okuru Ama

While many were busy preparing for New Year’s Eve on December 31st, 2022, the Okuru Ama community came together with a different kind of celebration in mind: a celebration of sustainability. The event, which was held at the Okuru Ama Townhall, aimed to recover plastic bottles and introduce the women and young girls of the community to the practice of upcycling.

When the team arrived at the Townhall at 9am, residents of the community had already begun to arrive with their plastic waste properly sorted and bagged. Using the iRecycle app, plastics were weighed and registered against the details of the residents who brought them in. Seeing the community come together for such a noble cause was a beautiful sight, even as the rest of the world was focused on the holiday celebrations.

The event was filled with educational activities and hands-on demonstrations on how to properly recycle and upcycle plastic waste. The first session of the day was facilitated by the co-founder of the iRecycle team, Christabel Altraide. She highlighted the purpose of the Let’s Recycle Campaign, which is to encourage the habit of recycling across coastal communities in the region. Christabel emphasized the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own waste and to sort it properly for recycling. Her talk was met with a lot of enthusiasm from the attendees, many of whom had not considered the impact of their waste on the environment before.

After the talk, the attendees were led by Dini’s Art House through an upcycling project where they created flower vases from waste plastic bottles. Dini’s Art House paid close attention to the women and young girls who participated and walked them through the process, giving them a chance to try their hands at upcycling. This aspect of the event was particularly impactful, as it showcased the potential of upcycling to the attendees and gave them a new perspective on the value of plastic waste.

Carving out flower vases from plastic bottles

Process of upcycling plastic bottles.

Final product of the flower vases created from plastic bottles.

Final product: Designed flower vases from plastic bottles.

As the event came to a close, the team was left feeling fulfilled and proud of the community’s commitment to sustainability. A total of close to 850kg of plastic waste was recovered, and the equivalent cash incentives were distributed to 55 attendees. 45 of them participated in the free upcycling training, of which 30 were women and young girls, while the others were young men and boys. 

The plastics are sorted and bagged.

Sorted and bagged plastics.

As a final note, community outreaches like this serve as a medium to not only recover plastic waste but also remind us of the importance of taking action to create a more sustainable future. It takes the collective effort of individuals, communities, and organizations to make a real difference, and it is always important to both recycle and upcycle. The people of Okuru Ama community are already looking forward to the next collection day. It was a true representation of how a community can come together to make a real difference in the world, and this was just the start of many more sustainable celebrations in the coming year. 

Together, we can take sustainable actions in our daily lives and make the world a better place for generations to come.

Find more photos and videos about the event on our Instagram page @irecycleworld.

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