It’s funny how you can find inspiring ideas in the most unexpected places. For the last four months, I’ve been walking past a bicycle fundi on my way to work, not really paying all that much attention to his set up. Up until a few weeks ago, we had only exchanged greetings, but that changed when I noticed a group of guys sat on what looked like computer monitors. I was intrigued and so decided to venture over and take a closer look. What I found in the fundi’s shack were some fantastic examples of how E-Waste can be reutilised for everyday use. I discovered the shack is shared with three ladies who cook and serve food throughout the day. In the “kitchen” area, I noticed the very practical use of old fridge doors, used for storing fruit and veg. I liked what I saw, so I promised I’d come back to try their food.
On my second visit, I sat down for a cup of chai and a warm flaky chappatti. The ladies were in the process of making pilau, which smelt incredibly fragrant. I asked if I was allowed to take pictures, and although I was granted permission, no one could quite see what the fuss was about. I did try to explain to them why I thought it a cleaver use of waste materials, but as cultural differences go the idea wasn’t grasped, and chuckles and giggles made me realise that the monitor stools and the fridge doors were just another example in many of Kenyan resourcefulness.
ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) is probably one of the worst plastics for recycling, but because of its durable nature, it’s used a great deal in casings for electronic goods. This has meant, that not only is there a vast amount of e-waste that we will have to deal with, but it also a huge amount of plastic that can not be recycled. As e-waste becomes an increasing problem here in Kenya, creative solutions will be required to deal with the various components that come from electronic goods. This should be taken into consideration with the product’s life cycle, which sometimes will never have a “grave”. What I saw at the fundi’s shack made me realise, that because of the resourcefulness of Africans, there must be many examples in the least expected places on how to reutilise obsolete products in new exciting ways. Solutions are always there, but it’s up to the individual to be adaptable, as my friend the fundi has been.