WATCH |The innovator trading bags of trash for a sense of purpose

Tanja Lategan, JBay Recycling Project coordinator.
Tanja Lategan, JBay Recycling Project coordinator.
Image: Beautiful News.

What’s the value of a bag filled with plastic? For children in Jeffreys Bay, it could be worth a meal, a new pair of shoes, or even a bicycle.

As a part of the JBay Recycling Project, kids are collecting recyclable materials and trading them for items they may need or want, but can’t afford.

The volunteer-driven programme, coordinated by Tanja Lategan, motivates kids to become responsible and independent.

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Every Monday afternoon, they bring in bags of rubbish to be recycled. The weight of their collection determines how many tokens they receive, which can be used in a shop set up for them.

It’s filled with essentials from toiletries and blankets to stationery and toys. The children can decide whether to spend or save their ‘mula’.


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“The project empowers them by providing a way to earn what they need,” Lategan says. “They’re not receiving a handout.”

Over 7 000 children have taken part in the project since it began in 2011. As they find materials to recycle, they’re also cleaning up their surrounds.

“The best thing you can give a child is a sense of purpose,” Lategan says. Trading in a new form of currency, these kids are turning trash into their own treasures.

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