Norma: I gather there are a lot of plastic bags lying around in Gambia? Please explain the situation.
Miranda: YES - the plastic bag situation in The Gambia is horrendous. It is a problem in both urban and rural areas. There is no official waste management system throughout the country, and the introduction of imported plastic bags to the markets well over 10 years ago caused many impoverished people to turn to this cheap method of carrying parcels, etc. No education about or understanding of the nature of plastic was given to people. Many farmers who rely on livestock were seeing unexplained deaths in their goats especially, and butchers are commonly finding plastic bags wrapped around the intestines of these animals who died unexpectedly. Many of the women in Njau also noticed that these plastic bags were getting buried under the soil and their gardens wouldn't grow. Other problems surrounding the plastic bag trash includes large pools of water / breeding ground for mosquitoes and all kinds of trash contaminating water supplies in rural areas. There are very few, if any, places I have traveled to in Gambia where plastic trash is not a problem. I don't have any official numbers of how many lbs. of plastic trash might still be left to clean up, as it is continually added to daily as there is still no limit, ban or education about these plastic bags on a wide scale and it's the most convenient means of toting goods from the market for customers who didn't "bring their own bag". ALL of the bags used from the women of Njau are literally recycled trash. I have found out that several "green" products or companies are actually using new plastic to make such objects, and I am appalled because that's contributing to the problem. The point of this project is that one day, the women will be done making these bags and can move on to other things. The bags are washed TWICE, and bags that are too dirty are not used.
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