Slowly but surely, the world is becoming more aware of the effects of plastic packaging on our natural environment. Social media is opening our eyes to the devastating effects our waste has on sea creatures, and even our household pets. In the last months, several videos showing the plastics contained in a whale’s stomach have gone viral; other videos show us how dangerous it can be for our pets to get into discarded food packaging, with frightening statistics confirming the number of deaths through suffocation. Fortunately, this new level of awareness is inspiring people to come up with fun and creative initiatives to combat this problem, Take 3 for the Sea being one of them.
In underprivileged countries such as Africa, a lack of education and access to vital information contributes to the ongoing issue of plastic waste. In Ghana alone, up to 270 tonnes of waste is produced on a daily basis, most of which ends up in the streets and blocking draining pipes. These numbers cause serious risks to the natural environment and the population’s overall health, and this is exactly what Stuart Gold, Managing Director of Trashy Bags, set out to change when he moved to Ghana in 2006.
Based in Accra, Trashy Bags creates funky recycled, eco-friendly bags and gifts made mainly from plastic water bottles and sachets, and advertising billboards. Non-biodegradable water sachets have become the popular norm in many African countries, and with Ghanaians drinking an average of 1 to 2 sachets a day – with only 2% being returned to recycling plants – there is enough material around to be used for the creation of durable fashion accessories.
Trashy Bags currently employs a staff of forty locals who are paid 0,5GH¢ per kilogram of water sachets (600 -800 sachets to one kilo) collected, plus a fixed salary for production. The sachets are carefully inspected to ensure they are not too torn or damaged and are then thoroughly cleaned and left to dry out in the sun. All Trashy Bags and Trashy Ad Bags (made from billboards) are made to order, though there is always stock available in the store. So far, there are 350 product variations available including shower curtains, laptop sleeves, shopping bags, handbags, tote bags, gym bags and pencil cases. Since Trashy Bags’ beginnings in 2007, they have collected and estimated 20 million plastic sachets – continuing at this rate, we can rest assured that Ghana’s waste problem will improve as much as the world of eco-friendly, recycled fashion!
The world quickly recognized the importance of Trashy Bags and if you happen to keep up to date with all your favourite celebrities, you may have spotted one of them sporting a snazzy Trashy Ad Bag following the MTV Awards in Madrid in 2010, where they were handed out as guest gifts. Two years later, the company was a finalist in the 2012 Global Awards for Sustainable Fashion – hardly surprising given the originality and backstory of their products. Purchase your next round of birthday gifts for your loved ones via Trashy Bags and you’ll be contributing to the betterment of Ghana’s natural environment and the creation of job opportunities. In other words: buy into fashion with a conscience!