By Adefolake Adekola
The recycling industry in Nigeria is gradually growing and so many people are showing interest but it is still seen as a job for environmentalists. It would shock many to know that all through the global lockdown, recycling companies were still working because they have to recycle used materials to make provisions for manufacturing industries.
Morit International School in Ajegunle (Lagos state) accepts plastics as school fees. A woman, Balikis Muritala, during an interview, mentioned how it was almost impossible to pay her child’s school fees until the African Cleanup Initiative (ACI) came up with the initiative to allow parents to pay school fees through a program called RecyclesPay Educational Product. This goes to show the importance of plastics even after we have consumed the contents inside and how people are finding creative ways to earn a living or provide support to others around them.
The pandemic that just recently crippled world economies and giant organizations is still causing a lot of havoc around the world. It might take a while for things to normalize. This may never happen: everyone might have to adjust from how things were before. Some organizations no longer see the need for numerous staff and have downsized. To this end, people are out of jobs and we need to find alternative sources of income such as recycling.
Many of us are thinking “I do not have money to start a company”. Don’t fret, there are other ways to make money from recycling without owning a registered company or even full-time staff.
I once worked in a waste management company and I know how much the plastic recyclers made on a daily and weekly basis. Some of them made N5,000 a day while their collectors made as high as N500,000 or more, weekly. They collect waste from several people and sell to the recycling companies.
There is a Warri adage that says “na from clap dance dey start,” loosely translated as ‘big things don’t happen suddenly’. I know we want to sit in an office and wait for people to collect plastics and pay us thousands, possibly millions in the long run, but we have to start somewhere.
The more plastic you provide, the more money you make. After a while, you can expand to the collection of glass and aluminum scraps for recycling, which is even more money.
Steps to take to make money from recycling
- Start by keeping all the plastics you use at home, in the office, from parties, anywhere you go. It is advisable to clean the bottles because the neater they are, the higher the value, and the more money you get. China started rejecting plastics because of contamination.
- When you have gathered the plastics to a significant amount, you can reach out to recyclers across the nation depending on where you stay. There are some recyclers online but most of them are found around dumpsites because most of their recyclable materials are found there. Only a few come from outsiders.
- Be careful not to fall victim to fraudsters because there are a lot of people that hang around the dumpsites looking for people to swindle. It is advisable to have a formal agreement with the recyclers. Some recycling companies actually get their materials directly from the dumpsites. But you can serve as the go-between for the scavengers and the recycling companies.
Subsistence Farming (Backyard Farming)
Some people are looking at their CVs and saying, “I cannot go and start picking plastics with my first-class degree certificate, I would rather stay at home”. Well, all hope is not lost, there is still something else you can do to make money and save the environment as well. Backyard farming, which is also known as subsistence farming, is the way to go. This involves farming on a small scale. You could start with crops that are easy to cultivate around the house, such as vegetables and fruits (scent leaf, moringa, turmeric, bitter leaf, waterleaf, aloe vera, pawpaw, avocado, lemon, tomatoes, pepper, etc.)
Do you know that by farming, you are saving the environment? You get better air quality, shade around the house, lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduced energy use for food production, etc.
All these fruits and vegetables I mentioned above are currently in my mother’s backyard and she cultivates them herself with the assistance of a domestic staff. She has about 14 different crops within the compound. Initially, it seemed frivolous until COVID-19 hit and she was eating fresh fruits and vegetables without stepping out of the compound. If she decided to make money during this period, at least she would have been making a few thousands per day.
You do not have to go into crop farming, you can decide to go into fish farming.
There are so many ways to make money and save the environment, you just have to be open to ideas. I know some want to say “but my backyard is not big enough”, you’d be surprised to know the small space some of these fruits and vegetables need.
How to go about backyard farming to earn money
- Carry out a survey and decide on what crops would be suitable for you. Based on the size of your backyard and other factors such as market availability.
- Prepare the soil
- Plant the crop
- Nurture, nurture, and nurture!
- When they are mature, sell them, and make your money. It is that simple.
A lot of us have probably submitted our CVs to countless places and it is becoming frustrating. Some just lost their jobs during this pandemic, while some have their jobs and are just bored with working from home. Recycling and subsistence farming can help save the environment and help you make money. It is time to get those hands dirty!