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Art

Clean My Space Turns Local Community Waste Into Art

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Clean My Space is solving one of Africa’s biggest problems, waste management. The other two are unemployment and security. However, they are doing it in an unconventional way resulting in active participation from members of the community. Clean My Space started on the 17th of May with only 24 members. However, the membership has grown to 180.

Among the members of Clean My Space are residents from BM Section in Khayelitsha, Green Point Phase One, and Qandu-qandu. They collect and sort waste, keeping an open eye for anything that can be turned into art. Speaking about the origin of the initiative, Malungisa Funda said,

“We got together with residents and started putting out ideas of how we can address unemployment in our community. But we looked at it holistically, by trying to find out the challenges that our community faces. So we identified three thing – crime, unemployment, and waste.”

How Clean My Space work

Once the problem was obvious, Clean My Space wanted to do more than just clear illegal dumping. They wanted to get the community involved. According to Funda, this was the birth of waste recycling into art. On Fridays, the Clean My Space team divide into smaller groups and go out in search of valuable waste. Funda said,

“We work from the Emmanuel Centre [in BM Section informal settlement]. We are a team, so we are not only made up of waste collectors but we also have volunteers who help us sort the waste and volunteers who turn the waste into something reusable. Our waste collection is every Friday from 11 am to 1 pm.”

The team puts on reflective vests, mask, and gloves to protect themselves. The majority of items they collect include plastic bags, paper, and plastic bottles. Another interesting way Clean My Space is making a difference is by educating the people in the places they go to collect the waste. They tell the people about the initiative as well as the importance of recycling.

Challenges and future plans

The team collects the waste in big blue refuse bags. Once full, they take the bags to the Emmanuel Center for sorting. The Clean My Space initiative is not without its challenges. In an interview, Funda highlighted some of the challenges they deal with.

“At the moment our challenge is the safety gear. Some of our members do not have reflectors [vests] and the gloves and masks were given to us by a local day hospital. We cannot keep asking the day hospital to sponsor us because they also need these things.”

Clean My Space turns the items they collect into useful items including school stationery holders and jewelry boxes. According to Funda, Clean My Space is working hard to have enough artworks so they can organize an exhibition during an upcoming event on June 16. They also hope to do enough to attract recognition from the local government and sponsors.

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