Tall Mpoppies by Penz Malinga

Thobekile Shezi – The Reducer

People say “a small action can change the world”. It is often that small action that makes a difference between the world being a little cleaner or a little dirtier. Waste is an international issue and nobody is safe from it.  The common, but sick, excuse for dumping household rubbish is the ‘creation of jobs’. People want others to pick up after them so they ignorantly throw even re-usable stuff away.

Your little action – picking up that one plastic bag, washing it and using it for your shopping might be the very thing that changes the world for better. There are many recycling efforts  out there. You would actually be stuck in the way backs, if you choose to not practise the five R’s – refusing, reducing, re-using, rotting, recycling.

Many people raid rubbish dumps and recycling depots everyday looking for waste that they can turn into art and make a living for themselves, often incorporating natural materials such as grass and reed. One of these people is Thobekile Shezi.

Thobekile Shezi, the reducer.

Thobekile Shezi, the reducer.

Thobekile is from Kwa-Chief just south of Mpophomeni, she lives with her life partner Kwenzakwakhe Khubisa.  They were blessed with four children and three grandchildren. She raids communal rubbish dumps for sacks, old clothing and plastic bags which she washes and weaves pillows, cushion covers and mats. In the recent past, people put effort into handmade items of all kinds. Many of our grandparents made a living by selling handmade crafts. Now because of the fast pace of life they have no time and they end up settling for poor quality, massed produced items from the shops. After Thobekile’s late father retired from his work as truck driver, he taught everyone in the family how to weave and sew so that they could make their lives better.

In her spare time Thobekile and her husband volunteer at the Mpophomeni Conservation Group Community Garden so that healthy food is always accessible. Thobekile helps collect waste to make eco-bricks that will be used to build benches in the garden. Thobekile dreams of a future that is cleaner, brighter and greener, where there is no plastic litter and all the rubbish is turned into something beautiful.