Women Empowerment

Climate Related Shocks that have come in due to Covid-19 have provided people with a platform for more innovative, sustainable and ambitious climate actions. A story of an innovative secondary school teacher who reuses and recycles wastes to make decorative art gives hope to the buzzing issue of waste management in Malawi.

 Mrs. Regina Mlambe Mtolo is a French teacher at Likuni Boys Secondary School in Lilongwe who in her free time makes art using thrown away plastic bottles and paper. Her artistic products include wall hangings, flower vases, artificial shrubs and jewelry. Her passion for a clean environment fueled her efforts to contribute in waste management and it is what drove her to find art as the creative way in which she could contribute in reducing the accumulation of waste, specifically plastic bottles and paper.

“All this started in 2020 during the time when schools were closed due to the Covid-19 Pandemic in Malawi. As I was taking a walk around the school, I was concerned with the enormous amount of waste that was left within the school premises after students hastily left for their homes. There were a lot of plastic bottles and papers lying around the school hostels. Seeing this was disturbing for me and I thought throwing them away was not an option since I knew plastic bottles were not biodegradable. So, I thought to myself, what if I turned these bottles and papers into something beautiful that people can use to decorate their homes and themselves. With that idea, I ended up collecting and packing everything into sacks and brought them home with me. The next morning, I started cutting the bottles into different shapes to make flower hangings and two years later here we are”.

On average, Mrs Mlambe uses about six small plastic bottles to make one hanging and about five 2 litre plastic bottles for the big ones. Another interesting thing is that she uses 98% of the bottles to make the art, such that only the bottle top is left as the actual waste.

She strongly believes that her creativity is an important contribution in as far as waste management is concerned and hopes her skills can be passed on to other women so that not only can they also contribute in waste management but also get money out of it at the same time. Her vision is to attain a clean environment and she intends to make a whole tree made of plastics so that she can use up as much plastic bottles as possible.

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