Learning to recycle starts with a bike


Can one man’s trash be another child’s bicycle? Growing up in Gugulethu, Reakgile Pudumo noticed piles of rubbish strewn across the town, threatening the health of children playing in the streets. His profound love for his community turned into a need to get involved. So Pudumo took it upon himself to initiate reform where it really matters: with the youth. Now, he’s inspiring a sweep of change so powerful, it’s already driving positive effects for future generations.

Pudumo’s mission starts with empowering the children of his hometown by educating them on waste management – how to reduce, reuse, and upcycle. Through his business, eKasi Recycling, and his school recycling programme, Gugulethu Goes Green, Pudumo provides motivation for school kids to actively engage with recycling. Partnering with Qhubeka, an NGO that uses bicycles to create change, Pudumo gives away a bicycle to the learner who collects the most rubbish. “By using bikes as an incentive, the children are already associating recycling with good,” he says. What he’s demonstrating is that waste isn’t really waste, but a tool we can use to create small changes that will make a big difference.

Pudumo’s next plan is to create a synergy with local municipalities to tackle the landfill issues that affect townships. “eKasi Recycling aims to start the education at grassroots level, and give birth to more responsible citizens, thus creating cleaner township communities," Pudumo says. To reward others for doing good, is in itself a reward. By sharing the project with others in South Africa, he’s strengthening the drive towards a greener country. “I think that it is up to the youth to take their future into their own hands by picking up waste,” Pudumo says. Through education, planning, and thoughtful incentives, South Africans are cleaning up the state of our future.

Nuraan Shaik