Practical Recycling – something important that we all can do

Livelihood Projects for the Romani People

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Before, and I know I have said that many times already, we even think of recycling, even practical recycling, that is to say making something “new” out of an item of “trash” we must think “reduce” and before that even “reduce”.

However, practical recycling should be something that should be thought about before we even go and put something into the recycling bin to be then going through a process of reprocessing and such.

Such practical recycling can be a possible source of income for the unwaged – the jobless – and kids even.

This kind of works has, in time past, always been a source – and the stress here is firmly on the letter “a” – source of income for Gypsy families.

Entire (Community) Livelihood Projects and Programs have been and are being set up around direct practical recycling, making goods for sale from discarded materials and items.

When we speak here of “practical recycling” we are not talking about gathering recyclables for resale to reprocessors and such nor of reprocessing recyclables into secondary raw materials but we are talking about using the refuse from which to make useful goods, for personal use, as gifts, or even, and especially so, for sale, like done by livelihood projects in a variety of countries.

While the majority of such livelihood projects are found in the developing world, that part of the world that, until not so long ago, was called the “Third World”, I can see no reason why something like that could not also work say in the UK, the USA, or such.

When, for instance, it comes to recycling advertising tarpaulin banners and such those too can be found in our countries and I am almost certain that here they go landfill site route and are not recycled.

Therefore, while there may not be such an ample supply of such tarps as there may be in the Philippines where Trashe Bolsas operates and maybe not of the same or similar large sizes, it would still be possible to work projects around reworking such tarps as are found in countries such as the UK into new goods, like it is done by Trashe Bolsas, but possibly smaller items, such as belt pouches, cellphone pouches, business card wallets, etc. The list, I am sure, is limited only by our imagination.

This is, I am sure, also one of many otherwise discarded materials that can be reworked in such and similar ways and manners and again it is only our imagination or lack of same that may restrict as to what can be reworked and how.

I am certain that, if we all look at trash in a different way and with different eyes as the majority of the population does then we could get a number of little industries started making goods that people will want to buy. Firstly, they want to buy those goods because of the fact that they are recycled and that they come from a self-help group but they should also want to do so because, especially, those goods are of high quality and are made locally.

For the Romani practical recycling such as this give the opportunity for many small industries where they can work for themselves and it is something where the entire family can get involved.

The making of bags and such from tarps, as done by Trashe Bolsas, for instance, is but an example. There are many other things that too can be recycled into saleable goods, from wire, over leather, to what-have-you.

As previously said, the only limit, I am sure, that will be there will be set by our imagination or the lack of it, whichever the case may be.

Now, let's open our eyes and our minds and get some self-help work started and let us, by such means, get away from the dependency culture and trap that seems to be surrounding the Romani.

© M Smith (Veshengro), May 2008