Man recycles bottles into canoes for fishermen

Posted on 2 December 2019

Ismaël Essome from Cameroon is making a positive impact on the environment in a place plagued by plastic waste.

The city of Douala on the Atlantic coast is home to over 5-million people and according to a press statement, its inhabitants produce over 600,000 tonnes of plastic waste every year, of which less than 10% gets recycled.

Rivers in the area are completely covered with plastic bottles – there are so many bottles that the water in the rivers is not visible in many places.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Essome says that he realised that all the rivers were full of plastic and that no one cared. He was shocked by this and decided to do something.

‘People are not educated on how to manage their waste, so, unfortunately, it is normal, ‘ he said.

According to The Good News Network, he collected empty bottles, built a canoe and then waited for a storm to test out his creation. ‘To the astonishment of the fishermen watching from the shore, Essome’s boat worked like a dream.’

Essome followed his first recycling success by creating a non-profit organisation called Madiba & Nature to collect plastic waste from around the region to be turned into boats for fishermen in need and clear rivers at the same time. He also explained to Al Jazeera that he hopes to change people’s mindset by setting an example.

By September 2019 the organisation had set up 100 Ecobins in Douala, collecting up to 3 tonnes of plastic waste per month. He and a group of 30 volunteers can also be found doing river cleanups and removing what appears to be countless bottles from the rivers.

One volunteer said, ‘No, there is no recycling system in Cameroon. Our politicians have other problems and priorities. People are poor, no one cares about the environment. This is the most urgent problem, so we need to change policy and manage waste.’

Image: Facebook/ Madiba and Nature

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