A Lebanese company has created a lucrative way to deal with trash problems – by turning it into a must-have fashion accessory!
In 2007, entrepreneur Stuart Gold started the company Trashy Bags, which specialises in turning waste collected in Ghana into trendy handbags (as well as a range of other products including hats, wallets, laptop cases and water bottle holders). Each bag is made from 70 drinking water sachets, and some models have the ability to carry as much as 20kg.
Rubbish is collected from Ghana's capital city, Accra, by Trashy Bag's 60 employees, who then process, wash, disinfect and dry the appropriate water sachets, which are flattened and stitched into large sheets, forming the basis for the bags' material.
Trashy Bags also encourages people to bring them their empty water sachets, as well as plastic ice cream, fruit juice and yoghurt packs, for which they pay about 20 cents a kilogram.
The popular brightly coloured bags are available in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, Holland and Denmark, as well as Lebanon.
Maya Mazloum, exclusive distributor of Trashy Bags in Lebanon says: “It is essential to create awareness about the negative human impact on the environment. I really believe that Trashy Bags contributes to that endeavour.”
While the material for the bags is gathered in Ghana, Lebanon itself is not without its own waste issues. As Wael Hmaydan, Director of non-profit organisation IndyAct, says: “In Lebanon, the waste problem is reaching a crisis situation, where we may run out of space to dispose of our garbage.”
Indeed, residents in the Nehmeh region of Lebanon have become outraged in recent weeks as a local landfill has been linked to the rise of deadly diseases in the area.
“It is definitely a topic that is high on the political agenda, and will become even more pressing very soon,” says Hmaydan. “Initiatives like Trashy Bags are good, but alone they will not solve the problem. The solution is to change the way we use natural material through legislation.”