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South Africa: Turning litter to classroom bricks in Diepsloot township

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South Africa

In a township in Johannesburg, South Africa, volunteers are turning litter into bricks, which are later used to build classrooms for local children.

A non-existent budget and need for a new classroom is what sparked the innovative idea for Diana Musara.

Musara leads the Khensani's Collection, an education organisation that offers after school classes to young people in the small and under-resourced township of Diepsloot.

Diepsloot is littered with piles of rubbish, a lot of which is plastic waste.

Needing to expand her offering, Musara's research lead her to Ecobricks, which are made by using sand or single use plastics stuffed into 2 litre or 750 millilitre bottles to create a solid "brick".

The "bricks" not only offer a cost-effective solution to a construction problem but also tackle the township's illegal dumping sites and overall pollution.

With the help of volunteers, living both inside and out of Diepsloot, more that 16,000 Ecobricks have been created to build a new classroom.

"We managed to get rid of about 3.5 tonnes of plastic, which is pollution that could have ended up in our environment," said Musara.

The Ecobricks can be used to construct anything from a small park bench to a 42 square metre building.

For volunteer Sharon Sibanda, joining the effort to make Ecobricks was a far better alternative than sitting at home.

She can earn a stipend of up to R500 (35 USD) per month on top of donated clothing items and food for her family.

"You can pick up bottles and plastics, you can come with them here and build classes (classrooms) from Ecobricks," said Sibanda.

For the Musara, the erection of the classroom is only the tip of the "rehabilitation of Diepsloot" iceberg.

The organisation plans to build an Eco-Centre on the premises, which will house five more classrooms, a library and a recreational centre.

The project aims to break ground by the second week of November 2021.

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