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  • Kwale Plastics

Trash4Cash: Babies are Great – Nappies Less So

This was the 9th week of the Trash4 Cash project and the teams moved away from cleaning the roadside. On Tuesday 21st July they went together to a waste dump site that is behind the major market area in Ukunda called ‘Ibiza’. This is an area of low lying common ground which floods during the rainy season and therefore has less housing on it than in other areas. Because it is open ground and the land is not owned or built on due to flooding it has become a dumping ground for the local population as well as the market, although the use of the County Skips is reducing the need to dump there.

However, there is a lot of rubbish here which has built up over many years and it is both a health hazard and an eyesore. The rubbish is often burnt and the air is filled with acrid smells. Children live nearby and play in the area and people walk by all the time, some coming to add to the rubbish dumped here. Nothing is segregated, nothing is recycled. No one takes responsibility. It is someone else’s responsibility – but somehow all of our problem. The trash is just lying there and rotting – a lot of it slowly. The rubbish hills are made up of old waste that has piled up year on year with black plastic bags showing at the sides. It will take years to break down if it ever does.

This is the situation that people find themselves in. Without proper waste disposal systems and proper management with a substantial investment, such waste will continue to impact the lives of the local people and usually those who are the poorest and have to live in such areas. There is a need to provide better waste management systems and better education to local people. The two must go together as it is no good knowing if you have no real options.

An example of this is one of the biggest causes and challenges of modern-day waste - nappies. Babies are great but nappies are not. Long gone are the days of mothers putting on their kids cotton nappies which were then soaked, washed and reused. In today’s throw away and quick to use world, single-use nappies are ubiquitous. Everyone uses them as they are easy and relatively cheaper to use.

However, the impact on the environment is massive as they are not disposed of properly but just left to rot and to be a health hazard in the grass. In some places, nappies are collected but have to be incinerated like hospital waste as there are no other options in terms of disposing of them. At some stage, we will all have to think of whether an easy life is a healthy and environmentally friendly life. As with single-use plastic bottles we have to move away from single-use nappies.

Despite this waste that had to be left for the county to deal with, the Trash4Cash teams had a good morning picking what could be recycled - especially plastic and paper - and they made a considerable dent into that sad pile of horrible waste. They collected almost 400 kgs of waste that day. Well done teams.

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