Nine-year-old turns old T-shirts into shopping bags

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT … Lewatle Uaputauka with a shopping bag she made from an old T-shirt.Photos: contributed

Lewatle Uaputauka (9) decided to help protect the environment by converting old T-shirts into shopping bags.
She calls her project ‘A Better Bag’.

The Grade 3 pupil from Dani Joubert Combined School at Mariental says she came up with the idea on 25 February.

She realised after shopping trips with her father that people buy plastic bags for shopping, but usually throw them away, which she says poses a danger to the environment.

People also spend money unnecessarily to buy plastic bags.

Uaputauka says she collects some old T-shirts from community members and cuts them into the shape of a bag.

She then ties the bottom to hold items, she says.

Her vision is to develop her project and collect more shirts to recycle them as bags.

Uaputauka says she is planning to form partnerships with schools’ environmental clubs across Namibia.

She sells each bag for 50 cents to sustain her initiative.

“I thought, why can I not start a sustainable project to minimise danger to the environment, as well as cut costs? Plastic bags are not properly disposed of.

“They are just thrown away, polluting the environment. They are a danger to people, animals and plants. People also spend unnecessary money buying plastic bags,” she says.

Uaputauka and her father, Taljaard, embarked on their first shopping trip with one of the bags on Saturday, she says.

Taljaard, who helps his daughter with her project, says he is proud of her.

“As a very active sustainable development advocate, I felt very emotional and happy at the same time that my daughter has grown into a selfless environmental pioneer with an innovative and imaginative mindset to create a sustainable future for all,” he says.

Community members were surprised to see the bags and are eager to know what they are made of and where they can buy them.

“This is a profound idea that must be supported and scaled to all corners of Namibia,” community member Normin Lucas says.

“I am excited that a small girl of her age has taken the bold step to protect the environment. We must support her to maximise impact,” says Anna Tenda.

Uaputauka is currently busy with a campaign to teach people how to turn their T-shirts into bags.

The bags are made in different sizes, depending on the number of shopping items.

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