By Japheth Ogamba
A group of youth in Kibera has taken upon themselves to reduce plastic bottle wastes in the area.
Going by the name “Sum Going Green and Clean”, the group’s first project was to construct their office using plastic bottle waste at Bombolulu area of Kibera.
The chairman of the 20-member group Gisore Nyabuti gave this writer a glimpse of their vision and mission.
“We started the group with the aim of not only cleaning up the environment, but also engaging the youth in Kibera who are mostly involved in criminal activities and drug abuse. Our project also helps in making sure that our neighbourhood is clean,” he said.
According to Gisore, plastic pollution in the slums is majorly an imported problem. He said people are paid Ksh500 to dispose trash from other residential areas neigbouring Kibera most of which are plastic bottles
“It is true employment has been created for that particular individual, but that in turn impacts the environment negatively,” he said.
The group is registered and its members collect plastic bottles and make better use of them.
The group makes skipping ropes from the leads of plastic bottles which they sell at Ksh20. They also make art such as bottle hats which are displayed during events at a fee.
The youth have also fenced their vegetable farm using plastic waste, planted their crops in bottles filled with soil and demarcated various crops using the same materials.
”It is an amazing project whose lifeline is on the line as it may be demolished anytime for being close to railway line,” visibly devastated Gisore told this writer.
Without any funding from the government, the group has to find their own means which include some of its members sacrificing their own wages to sustain their activities.
Well-wishers from the community also donate what they have to the cause and tourists who pay a visit and tip the group after seeing their house and farm projects.
“We have to do what we can to save our environment,” Gisore said quoting the famous Mary Magdalene quote, “we ourselves feel that what we are doing is a drop of water in the ocean, but the ocean would be less if it was missing that drop.”
According to the World Bank, the world generated 242 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2016. This waste primarily originated from three regions, 57 million tonnes from East Asia and the Pacific, 45 million tonnes from Europe and Central Asia, and 35 million tonnes from North America.
The visibility of plastic waste is increasing because of its accumulation in recent decades and its negative impact on the surrounding environment and human health. Unlike organic waste, plastic can take hundreds to thousands of years to decompose in nature.
Plastic waste is causing floods by clogging drains, causing respiratory issues when burned, shortening animal lifespans when consumed, and contaminating water bodies when dumped into canals and oceans.
Plastic in itself is made up of components that make it hard to decompose. It takes approximately 1000 years for a single plastic bottle to decompose.