Thursday, May 03, 2012

Trashy Bags in Ghana

This past 10 days our whole family was in Ghana for meetings and planning and 2 days of vacation thrown in for good measure! Blog coming soon about that. But first, a blog about an inspiring place we visited while we were there!
This place is called “Trashy Bags” and it was started by a gentleman from the UK named Stuart Gold and a Ghanian partner. It is a unique enterprise that collects the hundreds of thousands of discarded water, yogurt and ice cream baggies that plague Africa. You can check them out at
First all the bags are collected. Many women and men have seen value in picking up this trash and recycling it to this factory where they are paid for it. It is cleaning up neighbourhoods! The bags are triple washed and disinfected then dried in the sun. One thing I loved about the factory is that workers could bring their children with them!
The the sewers begin to piece the products together. This women is sewing together strips 2 at a time.
Eventually there are sheets of the baggies a certain size depending on what the product is going to be.
Then a cardboard template is used to cut the piece to size. This was for the outside of a mini-laptop case.
This man works at cutting out the colorful batik fabric that often makes up the liner of many of their products.
After this the many sewing ladies (they have 60 employees in total!) work to create unique bags, backpacks, shopping bags, cosmetics bags, laptop cases and much more. So fun!
As a final step, this young lady sits amid a pile of completed bags. She is quality control and she checks each bag and zipper before she ok’s it to go to market!
We were given our tour by Elvis. I kid you not, that is his name! He is obviously highly educated and also passionate about what he does. For a good 20 minutes he just stood and told us all about ecological problems, business models, corruption in Africa and many other things. If only we could find people like him in Niger!
We visited (and shopped in!) their showroom upstairs. Check out some of their products. Arielle got a bright yellow and pink backpack made from old yogurt baggies that she is excited to use next year in Canada!
Overall we loved to visit this factory and it was really encouraging to see an African solution and business working so well. They have tapped into markets in the UK and Australia as well. I thought how great it would be to do something like this in Niger, and how it could employ our girls and help clean up the trash here, but I came to the realization that while it could work and be awesome, it is to big for me to handle and start. A great idea and one I would love to support and cheer on a National to start, but not a current part of a Ministry and Impact Plan for us McIvers.
Want to buy a trashy bag for yourself? Well…it just so happens we will have some of their products are our speaking/auction events next year. When I know all the dates and locations I will put out the word so stay tuned!


Pamela said...

What a fantastic way to reuse the bags instead of just sending them to the landfill. I'm always inspired when I see creative people come up with solutions.

Thanks for sharing this Chantelle!

Anonymous said...

Isn't that marvellous? So proud of them for being proactive and creative.