TURNING TRASH INTO TREASURE

Green Innovationz’s environmentally-friendly face mask production business is based on the concept of preventing colourants from discarded cloth ending up polluting rivers and soil. In addition, the company ensures that cloth, which is not biodegradable, does not end up in the environment where it could be consumed by livestock and pets.

Next time you have old discarded cloth do not condemn it to the garbage bin, it is someone’s raw material. Ofentse Rabaji, 29, the owner of Green Innovationz, has a good use for it.

For many people, the idea of making a face mask involves metres and metres of new fabric from a shop. But as someone passionate about conservation, Ofentse witnessed the environmental impact disposal of discarded cloth from business premises of seamstresses and designers masks was having on the environment. And so, he decided to make sustainable usage of discarded cloth.

Green Innovationz’s environmentally-friendly face mask production business is based on the concept of preventing colourants from discarded cloth ending up polluting rivers and soil. “When cloth is made, it is coloured using dye. If it’s discarded and it rains, the dye washes off and runs into soil and water. The chemicals used in dye are harmful to animals and people who consume the water. If the dye is absorbed into the soil, it impacts its nutritional value in terms of planting,” Ofentse says.

Green Innovationz also ensures that cloth, which is not biodegradable, does not end up in the environment where it could be consumed by livestock and pets,. “Textile waste is not biodegradable so it could be in the environment for years after being discarded. Cows and sheep often eat small cloths, which can lead to digestion problems and the animals dying,” Ofentse demonstrates.

Ofentse has seen the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) opening up business opportunities worth exploring for discerning minds. He takes pride from seeing his business initiative keeping the environment clean and creating employment for seamstresses and designers, who supply him with discarded cloth, in and around Potchefstroom. Masks from Green Innovationz are made from cotton with a spunbond filter.

National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has assisted in marketing Green Innovationz. The NYDA named Ofentse one of its 2021 trailblazers. Illustrating the knack for turning trash into treasure, he has now expanded his business to turning discarded plastic, paper and cardboard into furniture.  

Rabaji holds a Master of Science degree from North West University.

Credits: Adapted for Transform SA from an article published by vukuzenzele

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