July 25, 2010

Trashy in Name Only

I referred to an article written by Emily Bowers in the first of this series about the plastic problem in Ghana. I encourage you to read the entire article, Burkina Faso Women Spin Trash Into Exports. While the article refers to Burkina Faso, it could just as easily refer to Ghana. There’s not much difference in the circumstances she describes.

Here’s a little more of what she wrote, in case you don’t read the whole story.

Across Africa, women are becoming more involved in environmental initiatives, spurred on by role models such as Wangari Maathai's Green Belt Movement, which started in Kenya to encourage women to plant trees and expanded into other African countries.

In 2004, Maathai brought environmental activism in Africa to the forefront, winning the Nobel Prize for Peace and encouraging other women and girls to take the lead in environmental protection. She also created economic opportunity for women as she paid them to reforest Kenya.”

The women began crocheting plastic bags into dolls and they now export the dolls and other products to the USA from their cooperative in Burkina Faso, as well as selling to local tourists.

“Lamizana also showed off a washing board, formed from melted plastic and molded into a typical, if old-fashioned, board. At their booth in the Village Artisanal de Ouagadougou, their main clientele are browsing tourists, who will pay a few dollars for the smaller items and $20 or more for a large bag.”

The same type of activities have been happening here in Ghana for some years now. Trashy Bags in Accra are selling “recycled Bolga baskets” in their store in Accra made from woven, recycled plastic bags and cloth. These baskets use traditional basket making techniques but use recycled materials.

Each basket uses 170 pure water plastic bags on average, and about 1.7 yards of recycled cloth, that would otherwise be burnt along with the plastic.

You can visit their show room in Accra and buy recycled Bolga baskets and Trashy Bag’s products like shoulder bags and purses by catching a taxi to Dzorlu and visiting the showroom. Click our header image or the side bar links for directions to the Trashy Bags showroom in Accra.


  1. thanks for this! Have seen the trashybags bags that Global Mamas sell, but not these. Will have to go and check them out. Now we just need people to carry their Bolga baskets with them and say, 'No thank you, I don't need a plastic bag' every time one is offered!

  2. Hi Fiona, thanks so much. Yes the GM's products are made by Trashy Bags and some possibly by GMs themselves too. I like your thoughts on the baskets!


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