Sometimes, innovations that solve one pressing problem cause another. This is the case with the inexpensive and readily available sachets of drinking water for sale all over Ghana. The sachets look like little pillows, and to drink one, you just tear off the corner with your teeth and squeeze the water into your mouth. This product has made safe drinking water widely available and affordable. This has greatly reduced water-born illnesses, which according to the World Health Organization, are the leading cause of death and disease worldwide. They also provide an income to countless street vendors. There is a never ending demand for drinking water in this country so close to the equator.
So where is the problem? Since there is little or no organized trash collection in Ghana, the discarded sachets pile up by the millions in urban areas. They clog canals, choke livestock and even block roadways. However, where many see an environmental problem, the folks at Trashy Bags saw an opportunity. They decided to clean up the mess by turning the bags into wildly fun and practical fashion statements. Each bag is thoroughly washed and dried before use. Trashy Bags has created jobs for 60 people and cleaned up more than 20 million sachets!!! They collect them at a rate of 200,000 per month.
In true Ghanaian style, Trashy Bags has chosen to celebrate and enjoy the humble materials they use in their products. In addition to the water sachets, they also use wrappers from Fan Milk, a yummy Ghanaian ice cream packaged in sachets so it can be distributed from ice cream carts and bicycles. The Trashy Bags film below, Fantastic in Plastic, shows a design contest between teams at the company. Their designs include practical items like a “really strong bag,”a waterproof baby carrier and an over-the-top trashy wedding ensemble. The teams clearly had a great time making the film, and some of their products ended up in the Trashy Bags catalog. Unique Batik is happy to offer a few of our favorite Trashy Bag designs. Sorry, no wedding dresses for now.