Women make a living from waste products

A GROUP of KwaZulu-Natal women have banded together to make creative products from recycled materials.

The eco-friendly businesswomen are now to be empowered with ideas on how to sell their products when they meet for a workshop in Durban next week.

Hilda Ngubane of Mpophomeni, Howick, said the workshop would help her business grow through fresh ideas.

The mother of three said she and two of her friends made curtains from used straws. Ngubane said her business was struggling with sales due to a lack of advertising and lack of consumer loyalty.

"I have been in this business for six years. My aim was to show people that waste material can be recycled and turned into good products. Some people place orders but fail to collect their products when finished," she said.

Ngubane was asked by the local municipality to go around schools in her area to teach children about the importance of recycling.

She said the collection and cleaning of straws required the help of local children who enjoy singing with her while picking the straws.

"We have to wait for sports or political gatherings in order to get plenty of straws. It takes up to four days to make the curtain, depending on the measurements."

Ngubane said the highest price for a curtain is R350, depending on its size. She said she would be looking to increase sales as the country gets ready to host international visitors.

The workshop will be in preparation for the 4th annual Women in Environment Conference, which is scheduled to take place during August in Johannesburg.

The initiative in spearheaded by the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development.

"The reason for the provincial workshop is to develop a provincial programme of action guided by the conference resolutions and also to nominate provincial representations for the national women in environment forum as per the 2008 conference declaration," department spokesperson Ncumisa Mafunda said.