Byline: Nonjabuliso Nhlambo

06 June 2022

Who knew that all the waste around the corners of Embalenhle township could be of great value in exchange.

From the early hours of the morning people came buzzing in trollies, bakkies and trucks full of recyclable materials, from the young ones to the elderly all excited about the day.

Sasol Swop shop located at Embalenhle Sasol club is doing wonders where waste is exchanged for monetary value and basic necessities.

Children and elderly people from around Embalenhle come with bulk waste collected throughout the month which is weighed and points are generated based on the material provided.

The points are therefore used to purchase from the swop shop or exchanged for a Shoprite/Checkers voucher.

The swop shop opens every first Saturday of each month with youth volunteering to help with the registrations, weighing, gathering waste to the exchange of points at the shop.

Gerhard Marais who is the co-founder of the swop shop said throughout the years the swop shop has grown so much that when they started off only children would come, but now it has grown in such a way that even families are now collecting which shows there is a serious need out there.

‘’The heart of this project is trying to teach the community that you have to do something in order to get back something,’’ Gerald said encouraging the team before starting work.

King Solomon Gamede who is one of the coordinators and an environmental justice student said the project generate income for most families who exchange at the shop.

In his joining the project he saw an amazing initiative tackling waste as the only project around the area which collects all kinds of waste.

‘’The project is really uplifting the community and also teaching environmental responsibility, cleanliness and entrepreneurship.

By doing so we aim to reduce  waste from going to the landfills”.

A young lady by the of name of Thandiwe Nzukula says the swop shop has been her family’s income since the year 2013, with her mother unemployed she would never let them go to bed hungry.

“Growing up my mom collected cans in order to put food on the table, my sisters and I joined her seeing how the situation at home was and we all started collecting.

That is how we generate income as family and able to support ourselves.

The swop shop has been of great help to us, we would come purchase basic necessities whenever we were running short.

During this period I also volunteered right after I’ve weighed our goods.

With the rising unemployment rate I would advise people who are not aware of the swop shop as it is very helpful, refrain from ‘Abantu bazothini syndrome’ as it won’t help because at the end of the day it is about the stomach,’’ Thandiwe said.

The weighing process
Volunteers Assisting at the swop shop