Recycling Cardboard: A Means of Survival for Six Women in Durban, South Africa

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recycling cardboard

Recycling cardboard is often viewed as a way to reduce waste and protect the environment, but for six women in Durban, South Africa, it is much more than that. These women, all single mothers, rely on recycling cardboard to survive and provide for their families.

Striving for a Common Goal

Every day, the women gather on the corner of Jan Smuts Avenue and Mayville Main Road, waiting for a truck to collect the cardboard they have collected. They work together, singing, laughing, and packing the cardboard into bundles. Their goal is simple: to make money to send their children to school.

A Mother’s Determination

Nontlantla Chitha, one of the women, has been recycling for the past 12 years. She started after leaving her marriage and struggling to find work. Chitha saw an opportunity in recycling and began collecting cardboard, eventually making R150 a week. Today, she drives around R3,400 a month.

Overcoming Adversity

The women from the Marikana informal settlement face dire living conditions. However, they are determined to provide their children with a brighter future and are willing to work hard to achieve that goal. They collect cardboard and support each other through challenges such as domestic violence.

A Source of Inspiration

For Chitha’s daughter Naledi, her mother’s determination is admirable. Naledi is currently in her second year of mechanical engineering at Umgungundlovu College. She says, “She is doing all she can to survive. I admire her for that.”

A Message of Resilience

These six women demonstrate the resilience and determination of mothers everywhere who will do whatever it takes to see their children succeed. They show that recycling is not only a way to protect the environment but also a means of improving lives and building stronger communities. Recycling cardboard is an eco-friendly initiative and a means of survival and hope for these women and their families.

Environmentalist and Outdoor Enthusiast. Amanda is a nature-loving, energetic, and enthusiastic environmentalist who has dedicated her life to exploring and protecting Cape Town's stunning natural landscapes. She is an experienced hiker, wildlife enthusiast, and advocate for sustainable tourism.

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