By Yana Paul
The Assistant Coordinator of Sustainability, American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, Adamawa State, Jennifer Che, said the university has been teaching people how to turn wastes to wealth.
Known as Yola Eco-essential Programme, the project was initiated in 2012 by a former professor of the university, Charles Reith, to encourage people to recycle and turn wastes into finished products.
“The aim of Yola Eco-Essential Program is to create awareness among residents of the city on how to live in sustainable environments,” said Mrs. Che.
She said plastic bags are some of the major waste materials in the country and can be found on roads, drainages, and homes.
Just like every other city in the country, Mrs. Che said Yola, which is host to AUN has tons of plastic bags which are toxic and very harmful to people and the environment.
She argued that Nigeria needs to embrace sustainability initiatives, which would help in turning things people consider useless to valuable products.
“We thought of bringing something new and amazing that will impact positively on the lives of Yola residents and the environment. Since some of the wastes products do not degrade especially plastic bags, and are causing diseases, we came up with an idea of recycling them into something fashionable and appreciable.”
A student of the university, Bintu Zanna, said the idea of recycling waste was laughable when it was initially introduced by the authorities of the AUN.
“What? Recycling wastes? How can this be? These were some of the questions we asked. We even created jokes about using bags made from plastic bags,” Miss Zanna said.
“Little did we know it is not a joke. It was until we saw the beautiful bags made from recycled plastic bags some of us were tempted to learn how to knead the bags to make money. It was amazing that I earned about N15, 000 the first two weeks of joining the programme.”
A resident of Yola, Hadiza Iliyasu, said the programme has created wealth for many people, adding that with proceeds from the recycling business has helped her pay school fees for her children and provide other needs of her family.
“When I was introduced to this program, my son was about to drop out of school because I was unable to pay her school fees. I was introduced to the programme where I learnt how to knead and within a week, I was able to made three bags,” said Mrs. Iliyasu said.
“Each of the bags were sold each at N3, 500 because there are big ones. With the money, I was able to pay my child’s school fees.”
Mrs. Jenifer said no fewer than 200 people have been trained under the programme in Yola and Jimeta towns.
Currently, she said over 1000 internally displaced persons (IDPs), are enrolled in the programme and would soon pass out.
Speaking on the programme, the Assistant Dean of Students’ Affairs, Reginald Braggs said, “It’s a good idea to teach students sustainability because it helps them to think and be part of solutions to environmental problems.”
“AUN is clean not because it’s an American style university or a private university, but because sustainability is a key term.”