Plastic is, without a doubt, making our life a lot easier. But that, of course, is not the end of the story. Currently, it is also one of the biggest threats to our planet. Globally, we produce 300 million tons of plastic per year and leave 78 percent of it unrecycled. Every year, around 8.8 million tons of plastic end up in the oceans, endangering countless marine animals. It’s estimated that 700 species of marine animals are now faced with extinction because of the threat of ingestion of and entanglement in plastic trash. Whether we like it or not, it is time to reconsider our relationship with disposable plastics – every single plastic bag, bottle, and straw.

In Kampala, the capital of Uganda, plastic waste literally piles up in the slums. Although plastic bags are now fortunately banned in Uganda, like in many other places in the world, that huge improvement does not get rid of the entirety of the problem. One of the most ubiquitous single-use plastic objects to find on the streets of Kampala are drinking straws, millions of which are discarded and polluting the city.

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Luckily, there are people who are taking action. Women from Kinawataka Women Initiatives devote their time and energy to collect discarded straws, wash and disinfect them, then flatten them by hand. The flattened plastic straws are woven into a fabric – a beautiful checker weave that looks nothing like a bunch of thrown away straws. The work is delicate and time-consuming, but the final effects are truly fantastic. The fabric is used to make various items like coasters, belts, and bags, which are ready to be exported to the U.S. and Europe.

This wonderful initiative benefits everyone – the streets of the city are cleaner, the plastic is getting recycled in a great and creative way, and the estimated 800 participants, most of whom are women, are earning an additional income.

To learn how to reduce the amount of plastic waste you produce in your everyday life, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign!