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.
Rebecca Bulus is a full-time cleaner, who learned about waste collection when she realized the extent to which the littered waste in her community was making.
She started picking up bottles and other recyclables in her neighborhood and since then, she has recycled about 200kg of recyclables and has earned N10,000 or more from waste picking.
How did you get introduced to waste collection?
I first got introduced to waste picking when I found out about ecobarter; before that, I didn’t know that it was something I could do to even improve my livelihood.
I knew about Baban Bollas because I grew up around them and saw them pick things out of dumps; I just didn’t realize how much money you could make doing this work.
After I learned about recycling and the work that ecobarter does, I decided to join the platform just to see for myself if I could benefit from it. And I did.
What do you struggle with the most when picking waste?
Hmm. The selling price oh. *laughs*
Sometimes it confuses me a bit because you can pick up a lot of bottles and cans, but the money value after selling might be low due to the fluctuating prices.
It makes you think like, “Ha! How can I pick this many bottles, and this is all I get?”
It is usually frustrating, but we understand that these things come with the kind of job that we do.
Another area is getting access to the waste itself. Some houses and estates don’t even allow you to pick from them. Before you even get the chance to sort through their waste, the security people there would’ve already come to send you away.
What do you enjoy about being an ecobarter vendor?
What I enjoy the most about ecobarter is being able to easily get money from the waste that I pick. You know in Nigeria, everything concerning money is tough, talkless of waste pickers like us who have to struggle even harder to make profit.
Usually, you have to pick the waste, and then look for who will want to buy it. But since I started collecting for ecobarter, it has been easy for me.
How much do you make on a monthly basis from waste picking?
I make around N2000-N2500. Depending on the weight of the bottles and materials that I’m able to gather around that time.
Can you recall a time when the money you got from collecting waste saved you?
I mostly use the money I get to buy food ingredients to cook for my children.
But there was a time when my child was ill and we had to buy some drugs at the pharmacy. I didn’t have much on me, because I had not received my salary yet. I only had the money I saved up from collecting the bottles, and that was what I used to pay for the drug.
It is one of the reasons why I continue to pick the bottles. I know that it is not a lot of money but the money helps in many ways and I’m happy that I can have something to fall back on.
How has picking waste improved your life?
The money I’ve gotten from this work has helped put food on the table and has helped pay some hospital bills. I’ve been able to purchase things that usually I wouldn’t have been able to normally.
I am also learning that it helps the environment too. All the dirt that we are always packing is being turned into different things, which is good for us.
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