Children from Hangberg are turning their trash into gold thanks to the new JunkSTARS recycling initiative sweeping the bay.
JunkSTARS was registered as an NPO in March this year and started working inside the Hout Bay Harbour.
They managed to recycle over 460kg of rubbish last month, after officially opening their swop shop on September 12.
Founder of JunkSTARS, Jessie Chester, said the rubbish was being collected by children who are part of the Meraki Bay NPO programme, which operates in Hangberg.
The initiative enables children to swop plastic bottles, cans and newspapers for points, which can then be exchanged for food items, treats and toiletries. “The kids have been amazing and have quickly realised the value of plastic bottles and cans that they see lying around,” she said.
JunkSTARS operates from a trailer on the Hout Bay Harbour, where the children visit to exchange the items they have collected during the week.
“We have been so encouraged by the response and enthusiasm of the children. They give great thought to what they wish to ‘purchase’ and it means that they can take home items which can make a difference to their families,” Ms Chester said.
Chandre Lodewyk from Hangberg has two sons, Jodi, 9, and Adam, 11, who turned their week-long search for bottles and cans into a means of income to support the family.
“The children have the option of what they can exchange things for and my sons exchange it always for food and toiletries. They could have taken sweets and chips, but they thought about their family, just the way I raised them,” she said.
Ms Lodewyk said it would be a “wonderful initiative” if it grew bigger and children were offered more.
“Imagine we have all the children running around, wanting to pick up the dirt because they know there is bigger stuff for them to work with. I really think this is a good idea and I hope to see it grow.”
The “swop shop” mostly stocks non-perishable food items, but toiletries for the boys and girls are very popular too. School stationery is also on offer and it is expected to be a hot commodity when schools go back in 2021.
“We have had wonderful support from various sponsors. Pescaluna has been very generous by allowing us to use one of their old trailers to house the shop and although we generate money from ‘selling’ on the recycling, it does not cover the cost of stocking the shop with items that will best help the children. We do need more sponsors and appeal to the Hout Bay community to support us – every contribution helps,” Ms Chester said.
Enrico Abrahams, 10, from Hangberg, said he also learns how to make “big people’s decisions” when he has to swop his points for the items.
“I spend the whole week cleaning up and looking for stuff. I even knock on some doors, so it’s a effort. When I’m by the shop, I must make a big people’s decision and I must only take what I need, not just sweets everytime,” he laughed.
JunkSTARS is also currently working with the Imizamo Yethu Recycling Co-operative who collect the sorted, recyclable material.
“It is a great partnership in a community which needs to find innovative ways to improve the waste and litter generated in the area,” Ms Chester said.
The shop is open every Saturday from 10am. Each bag of recycling is weighed and the points allocated are then used to “shop”. To find out more, call 082 824 9785 or email email@example.com