Our Recycling Swop Shop Knysna is is a great example of how our community volunteer projects help to empower local people. It is also an example of how we have declared WAR on plastic!
This recycling exchange project in South Africa gives local children a chance to “buy” themselves items such as toiletries, stationery, and clothes. It encourages them to clean up the local environment and teaches participants that waste is a resource that doesn’t just need to be thrown away, but has some value.
The Recycling Swop Shop is run by EDGE of AFRICA Volunteers on a wednesday afternoon. The shop is entirely stocked by donations from both international and local supporters.
Since this project began in 2010 over 700 children have registered and we have collected over 60,00kg (or 6 tons!) of recycling.
Local children from as young as 2 years old and up to 18 years old collect recyclable materials such as glass, paper/card, plastic and tins.
The children wait patiently with their sorted bags of recycling – which they have separated into the different types of materials.
Our EDGE of AFRICA Volunteers and team weigh the recycling and record how much has been collected of each type of material.
In 2018, we started collecting bottle bricks, which are 2 litre plastic bottles packed with all the litter that can’t be recycled (like foils, soft plastics etc.). These bricks are then used for various community projects, for example some of our recent volunteers used bottle bricks to create garden planters at a local Primary School.
After our volunteers have weighed the recycling, the kids wait to receive their points, which is calculated based on the amount of recycling they have collected.
Every child has their own membership card and each time they visit the project our volunteers record the points earned in their card.
Now the fun begins…it’s time to shop! Every item in the shop is assigned a “point value” and our volunteers are on hand to assist the children in choosing what they would like to buy with their points.
What happens to the recycling collected? We use as much of the recycling as possible for other EDGE of AFRICA community volunteer projects in South Africa. For example we use 2 litre plastic bottles to construct greenhouses at local schools and community centers. Our ultimate aim is for every piece of recycling to be used in our business empowerment projects – much like how nature uses every bit of natural waste in an ecosystem, we are striving to do the same in our community.