We want to start an initiative in our community to educate some of the locals in difficult financial positions on ways that they can create items from recycled plastic that could be sold to support their income.
This is not a new idea, there have been plenty of iterations of the same concept in the past, but the purpose of this session is to come up with a list of products that can be manufactured that meet three requirements.
The material needs to be free to access. Recycled material would be best, as it would serve dual purposes, cleaning the environment while also benefitting the local community.
The products need to be easy to make. If the manufacturing process is too complicated or requires too much skill or equipment, not everyone will be able to benefit from it.
The finished products need to have value. Often, these type of initiatives produce a lot of products that ultimately cannot be sold.
I think plastic bags have become redundant in many western countries, here in Africa, they are still abundant though, therefore, plastic bags would be the ideal material to use, but I am open to any suggestions.
We plan to host workshops where we can ideally teach these manufacturing skills in one or two sessions, so while ideas like melting plastic and making golf tees is great, the process might be too difficult for one person without any resources. We're looking for sustainable skills that we can pass on quickly to as many people as possible, allowing them to then take it further on their own.
As the third specification points out, we'd like to be manufacturing goods that are useful, rather than just crafts. Often, these initiatives focus on the tourism market, selling curriosities and memorabilia at inflated prices to visitors from other countries who don't mind paying high prices because of the exchange rate. Apart from the fact that Covid has shut down the tourism industry in South Africa, I also believe that it would be more sustainable to focus on useful products.
A quick search on Google for "recycled plastic craft ideas" or any similar term will quickly produce a lot of options, but we want to focus on products that would be scalable. You're not going to be able to sell 1000 fish made out of plastic bottles, so making fish out of plastic bottles is going to limit the potential, we want to find ideas that could potentially make them some money.