#MyEcobarterStory: Meet Lucy

Asides from waste recycling, one of the most important aspects Ecobarter prioritizes are our recyclers. One of our primary goals is to connect with our community and find new ways of normalizing waste recycling and creating efficient waste disposal methods for the greater community. 

This month, we have our recycler!

Meet Lucy!

Lucy is a pharmacist who, in her spare time, loves to read, hike, and is into gardening. She fondly refers to herself as a ‘herbalist’ because she does a lot of research and works with natural products such as herbs. Lucy is our top recycler of the month. 

What would say your most recycled item is?

Uhm… of recent I’ll say between paper and plastics. I had a lot of paper but I also make use of plastics, so I’ll say both.

Hm. Hypothetically, if you could remove one item that contributes the most waste in your household, which would it be?

*laughs* plastics.

Okay… Why plastics? 

You know the things we buy now…

You go to the market to buy things. It’s either you have it in a polythene bag or you’re buying oils that come in plastic bottles. If we could have a substitute or something that we could use that is biodegradable… I think it’ll be a better option. 

Fair enough, so how did you get into recycling? 

Let’s just say that I’m a bit old-fashioned. I grew up in a household where we don’t just throw things away. My mother taught me that if that if you use something once and then throw it away, it becomes waste. So we’d always find a way to reuse the item, and because of that, I always had it at the back of my mind. 

When I had my own home, it became a bit difficult to just throw things away. Somehow I always think, “Oh, I’m sure I’m going to need this” or “I’m sure I’m going to find a use for it some other time”.

But, just as I previously mentioned, when you purchase and consume items that come in plastic containers, how much of these can you really reuse? They just pile up and become overwhelming. 

And because I live in Abuja, there is the issue of dealing with Baban Bollas (community waste-pickers), who come to pick what they can recycle. They are fond of messing up and littering the waste area while going through your waste and selecting reusable waste items. It bothered me lot, which is really what got me started and fully into recycling. 

That’s interesting. So before ecobarter, how were you recycling? Did you rely on Baban Bollas?

Not really. I was just reusing my waste. For example, with my plastic bottles, I usually plant my flowers in them, or sometimes I would pack them up and take them to panteka. But sometimes they(panteka) are too picky with their waste selection, and I’d end up still having the waste. 

So it wasn’t as efficient. 

How did you find out about Ecobarter?

Okay, so I found out about ecobarter while I was moving to a new house. 

I was clearing out a lot of things, and I had accumulated a lot of clutter. And so, because I was moving to a smaller space, I realized that I couldn’t stack up my space with all of that. And even the stuff u had, the baban bollas wouldn’t take them. So I needed somewhere or someone I could take these things to, to get them off of me.

As I was going through everything I had, I realized that I had a lot of children’s books, notebooks, and textbooks. So I sorted them out and gave the textbooks out to schools that I thought could reuse them, because there were quite a lot of textbooks. I couldn’t really give out the notebooks, which was a problem. Then I thought, “There has to be someone who is into recycling these kinds of things”. 

Before this, I had heard on the radio about some companies that were recycling and wrote down some names. So I went online and searched, but I couldn’t trace them at first. I searched again and found ecobarter. 

How would you describe your experience with ecobarter? 

It’s been really good.  

You know, one of the things that made me stick with ecobarter is the response time. I would ask tons of questions, and I didn’t know who was at the other end, but the person just kept answering me patiently. 

Sometimes I’m not so patient, haha… but the response is always so polite and full of apologies. Even when I have issues and I request for pick-up, they’re always receptive to my request. So it’s quite impressive. 

You recently were able to exchange your recycling points for cash; can you tell us about that experience?

Yes, it was just out of curiosity really.

I checked my app, and I had like 500 recycling points, I was like, “Wow, that’s a lot”. I decided to try to exchange it for cash just to see if I’d actually get the money or just excuses. So I filled in my request on the app, and I actually forgot about it. 

I think it was until the next day that I got the credit alert, and I was like, “Where’s the coming from?”. Then I saw that it was from ecobarter and I was so surprised, like, “So it it for real haha?”.

It was almost like being dashed money that you didn’t expect. I mean, I had been recycling for nothing before, and getting rewarded for it now felt quite nice.

It’s also interesting to watch your points accumulate, which is a good motivator. Now I even get upset when I see people trashing things, I’m always like, “don’t you know you can recycle these things and even make money from it?”.

Haha…that’s lovely! How would rate ecobarter on a scale of 1-10? 

Hmm. I’d give it a 9 out if 10.

Because I’m actually very impressed with the work that you guys do. 

I’m holding on to the 1 though. Only because I believe there’s still room for improvement, and also for the fact I believe that there’s more about ecobarter that I’m yet to discover. So I’m going to challenge myself to find out more about your organization.

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