Trading with Plastic in Diepsloot

When working in a community like Diepsloot, providing business support is not enough. Often people call us saying they have no food. How can we expect people to build thriving businesses when their most basic needs are not met? Before the lockdown, we were able to provide our participants with soup and sandwiches on a daily basis. However, by giving people something for nothing we do not truly empower them. In fact, we risk creating dependencies and a sense of entitlement. We therefore had to come up with a better solution.

The Eco Trading Store provides a solution that is empowering and creates a culture of social responsibility among our participants. They “do something to get something”, rather than getting handouts, while at the same time uplifting and “greening” their community.


By creating an alternative means for people to provide for themselves while positively impacting the environment, the long-term results of this initiative impact the sustainable goals of Zero Hunger (SDG2), Reduced Inequalities (SDG10), Life on Land (SDG15) and Life Below Water (SDG14).

The Eco Trading Store was officially opened on our premises in Diepsloot on Mandela Day 2019 and enables our participants (entrepreneurs and the children on our Roots and Shoots Programme) to support themselves and their families in a dignified way. They earn eco bucks by bringing in wet waste, recycling and eco-bricks. They can the trade these eco bucks for food, toiletries, toys, clothing and other items in the store.


Ecobricks are plastic bottles stuffed with non-recyclable plastics. They are a great example of upcycling, as they can be used to build anything from furniture to houses and schools. This eco-brick wall on our premises is made of 500 eco-bricks, which translates to around 200 kg of plastic taken off the streets.

The store also provides a solution to the current environmental crisis in Diepsloot. As a result of limited waste management options, the community is plagued by illegal dumping. Sidewalks all over Diepsloot are overflowing with household waste. The positive impact of this initiative has been massive, with a total of 335kg of single use plastic being kept out of landfills and waterways over the last 2 years. In addition, 2476kg of wet waste has been turned into nutrient rich compost for our food gardens.

The ecobucks system teaches youth about economic activity, as they often save this currency until they are able to purchase large items. Some truly heartwarming stories have emerged as a result.

Desmond (left) saved up over 300 eco bucks to buy this TV for his family, just before Christmas. Another young man (right) used his hard-earned eco bucks to buy a pram so he could relieve his mother of the burden of having to carry around his twin siblings.

All stock in the Eco Trading Store is acquired through donations, and the system is ensuring that clothing, toys, and household items are being repurposed rather than thrown away. The Eco Trading store, therefore, promotes a circular economy in 2 ways; by ensuring household waste gets recycled or upcycled;  by giving previously loved items another life.

If you have items you would like to donate to the Eco Trading Store, or would like to organize a donation drive within your organisation, please get in touch with us via the contact page.







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