G’s Spot – A Journey into the Beautiful Art of Glass Recycling

During the month of May I took a trip up to Johannsburg via Swaziland. I had some time on my hands so I decided to visit one of the oldest & most well known Glass Recycler’s in Southern Africa – Ngwenya Glass.

Started in 1979 by Swedish Aid, a factory was built & all the machinery and equipment was imported. Only Swazi’s were trained & employed in the age old art of glassblowing. Two of the most talented were sent over to Sweden to be taught by some of the leading glassblowers in the world. From 1981 to its closure in 1985, the factory was run entirely by Swazi’s.

In June 1987 the factory was reopened. Today, Ngwenya Glass employs more than 60 people & is pretty much a household name in many homes worldwide, not to mention that some of their custom made light fittings & tableware have been commissioned by some of the most prestigious hotels in the world.

The reason why Ngwenya Glass is so special is that only re-cycled glass is used – mainly old cool drink & wine bottles, and that each and every piece is totally handmade, mouth blown, cut, melted & shaped etc. People from all over Swaziland collect bottles and are paid per kilo for clean glass. Ngwenya must be the cleanest area in Swaziland because any bottle that catches the children ‘ s attention finds its way into the factory! Great way for communities to get involved in Sustainable practices & earn a little on the side don’t you agree?

I found the most interesting ideas made from old bottles. One of the designs was using old wine bottles & transforming them into, would you believe small serving plates. Brilliant idea I thought; not to mention all the various recycled glasses, bird feeders, clocks, lamps, decorative hanging bottles, tot glass necklaces, candle holders, ashtray’s, jewellery pieces & more that I found.
Ngwenya Glass works with the local schools to instil in the children a sense of environmental awareness. In exchange for building materials and the sponsorship of the soccer team, the students must participate in clean-up campaigns. This success story just goes to prove that business & a commitment to protecting the environment can indeed be a winning combination.

Once again, I find that so many of the resources needed to sustain a family, community etc are all right in front of our eyes. All we need are people who are passionate about recycling & sustainability to get involved & encourage others to do the same. Next thing you know, we are all flourishing with creativity, abundance, happiness & of course “a cleaner & more conscious planet to all exist on in harmony”.

Keep it clean & sustainable folks…Reduce, Re-use & Recycle!

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