It is now 8 years since Turtle Bay partnered with Watamu Marine Association (WMA) in 2009 to start a beach cleaning and waste management program for Watamu.
What started as a weekly beach cleanup carried out by the local community Blue Team waste collectors has now grown into a plastic recycling business enterprise and the creation of EcoWorld Watamu.
All plastic and glass waste from beach cleanups, the Marine Park hotels and many local residents is sent to the Recycling Centre at EcoWorld where the plastic is machine shredded into small pieces. This is then sold to the plastic recycling industries in Mombasa and Malindi where it is melted down and used to make more plastic products. This saves energy and natural resources by not making new plastic and importantly reduces the amount of plastic polluting our beaches and environment.
Through hotels and local business sponsorship, the 22 strong Blue Team get a part time income from beach cleaning and 2 members are employed full time as plastic recyclers which is what we call “Turning Trash into Cash.”
The latest recycling initiative to come out of EcoWorld is the construction of a building with the walls made from 5,628 plastic water bottles and glass wine bottles. This is showing our local community and Kenyans that waste materials can have a useful and practical value and save money.
This building is being used by WMA community health and women group members to make natural health products from neem tree and coconut oils. The virgin coconut oil and soaps and lotions are used for skin care and to combat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. These products are on sale in the new EcoWorld shop along with unique artwork and sculptures of animals made from recycled flip flops collected from the beach.
A large amount of waste produced by hotels and houses is organic waste from kitchens and gardens. EcoWorld is demonstrating green technologies such as biogas, bio-fuel briquettes and bio-charcoal, all produced from organic waste. Besides providing free fuel, adopting these methods is an alternative to using charcoal. Charcoal is made from cutting down trees and is the main source of cooking fuel for Kenyans. Our forests are under threat from charcoal demand so now we have other solutions to an environmental problem. Compost gardens are also on display showing local communities how easy it is to produce quality soil for growing vegetables. Turtle Bay again is helping out by providing EcoWorld with free compost.
Future plans for EcoWorld are to build eco-accommodation from recycled materials to house Kenyan students, researchers and international volunteers interested in environmental management, recycling and community development.
EcoWorld is open to the public and is becoming a growing Watamu tourist attraction. Government and educational institutions are also invited to use it as a case study and centre for learning.
We welcome all Turtle Bay guests to come and discover EcoWorld and see how community groups and hotels can work together to “turn the tide on trash” and create Win-Win initiatives helping both people and the environment.
EcoWorld is on the Mida Creek tourist circuit just 2km from Turtle Bay and close to the Mangrove Boardwalk and Crab Shack Restaurant, traditional dugout canoe tours and Sita Community Snake Park.
If you would like to visit EcoWorld, speak to Ken in the Discovery Office and for more information about EcoWorld or if you are interested in volunteering or giving support email firstname.lastname@example.org and see www.watamu.biz