From trash to treasure

Easy to throw in the trash, one woman is using plastic bags and giving it new life, all to keep the country a little more cleaner and to help someone in need.

17 March 2019 | People

It’s really a community project that I hope will grow to other towns too. Conny Pimenta, entrepreneur

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel

One day, while playing around on YouTube, a tutorial popped up explaining how to make rugs from plastic bags. Thanks to this video, one Windhoek woman is changing the lives of many.

Conny Pimenta says she wanted to see if she could crochet, but realized soon enough this is not the hobby for her. But then she came across a tutorial for weaving bags and mats, and she was hooked. “It took me about two weeks to finish my first mat, but I found it to be highly addictive,” she says.

Once complete, Conny says she decided to find a homeless person to give it to. “On my way to the river where I know homeless reside, I came across an older man at the service station who looked forlorn. I approached him, telling him I have a present for him. I unrolled it to show him that he can use it as a mat and when I looked up at him again, he had tears in his eyes and asked if it was really for him and if it was really free. And that was it, I didn’t need any more motivation.”

Community involvement

Conny began this project in May last year, asking everyone she knew for their plastic bags. “My neighbours came to my rescue but I soon realised that I was going need a lot more bags so I posted my request on Facebook,” she says.

The response was incredible. From friends and acquaintances to strangers rang her doorbell delivering plastic bags.

“There was even a company that brought me a bakkie load full of bags. My storeroom was filled to the roof. It was a really heart-warming experience to see how many people wanted to be part of this project,” Conny says.

Once the public saw the end result, and seeing that Conny is not about to stop any time soon, they keep collecting. “It’s really a community project that I hope will grow to other towns too.”

She stopped counting how many mats she has made so far but says it should be in the region of 25. “Each mat uses about 500 bags and now it only takes me three days to make a 2m x 1m mat.” Conservatively speaking, she has used about 12 500 plastic bags.

Except for the mats, she also makes pillows and plays around with other uses for the bags.

St Paul’s College became involved last year.

In a Facebook post, Conny wrote that every Tuesday afternoon a group of young ladies and gentlemen met to either weave the mats or cut the thousands of bags into loops for the weaving process. At the end of the term, all the finished ground sheets along with a pillow, stuffed with the off cuts from the bags, were handed over to Red Cross Namibia (RCN). Amongst others, the RCN team looks after shack fire victims but due to financial constraints, can currently only give two blankets per household who’ve lost everything.

“What better way to help out a family than to give them at least a ground sheet each to sleep on until they are back on their feet,” she wrote.

Initially she gave mats to homeless people that she came across and some went to security guards. “At the end of last year I gave what I had to the Red Cross to donate to shack fire victims,” she said.

This year she will give the mats to the Cancer Association who will distribute them to rural cancer patients who often don’t even have a blanket. “These mats are surprisingly soft and very easy to clean, so they’re ideal for this purpose.”

Helping the environment

Except for helping those in need, this project is helping the environment by making sure thousands of plastic bags do not end up in landfills. “We went on a Skeleton Coast tour in December 2017 and ended at Sesfontein. The incredible amount of dirt and rubbish that greeted us after we’d just been in pristine surroundings, was something that upset me for months afterwards,” she explains.

“When I saw the tutorial, I realised that Namibians need to and can learn to reuse items for their own benefit. By now I’ve taught four ladies privately how to make these mats and sell them to farmworkers or even shack owners who use them against the walls of the shacks for insulation in winter,” she says.

According to Conny, most Namibians must have seen the frightening videos going around on social media regarding the tremendous pollution of our oceans and rivers. “But I am concerned that Namibians have not been properly educated around the need for recycling and the long-term effect it has on all of us, no matter where we live,” she says.

“So far, none of the recipients of the mats knew what recycling actually meant, but were so impressed to see that these mats can be made with no tools involved besides a scissor and that the bags are freely available amongst friends too.”

She says that various people have approached her to help, “but unfortunately backed down once they realised that there is actually work involved in terms of collecting bags and cutting them before the weaving can begin. But we’ll get there!”

If you want to get involved, bags can be delivered at the Cancer Association of Namibia in Windhoek or Swakopmund. RR Importers in Windhoek is also collecting bags for the Kabouterland Kindergarten teachers who’ve just started to make them too. Conny can be contacted at [email protected]

Similar News


Graduate shares her story

1 day - 26 May 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea LouwChloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and dusty streets...

Klokkie van hoop

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelDie agtjarige Marjuné Fleschig is verlede Oktober met leukemie gediagnoseer.Sewe maande later kan die gesin weer ’n bietjie asemhaal nadat sy verlede...

Aardse vreugde

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelOngeag jou eetstyl of dieetvoorkeure, almal is elke dan en wan lus vir 'n skeppie roomys of 'n pizza met kaas. En...

Jaime the ultimate champion

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Young Jaime Oosthuizen who participated in the Namibian Championships of Performing Arts was awarded the Junior Grand Champion of the Year 2019.Jaime, who is a...

Smart Boy prefers quality over quantity

1 week ago - 19 May 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Adolf KaureSwakopmund-based rapper Faith Namaseb better known by his stage name Smart Boy, is currently working on new music. Speaking to this newspaper...

Baba Joshua sterk aan

2 weeks ago - 12 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelDie 4-maande oue baba van Gobabis wat met ’n geboortedefek gebore is, het verlede week sy tweede operasie in die hoofstad ondergaan....

Father faces uphill in custody battle

2 weeks ago - 12 May 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw A local man claims that social workers are discriminating against fathers fighting for the custody of their children.James Martin*...

Grabbing every opportunity

2 weeks ago - 12 May 2019 | People

Back in the day it was often hard for women to be heard and seen, but this entrepreneur decided to focus on her inner strength...

Speak for yourself

3 weeks ago - 05 May 2019 | People

Windhoek • Yolanda NelEtched in Namibia's history are images of proud German troops, standing at attention next to the hanged bodies of Herero prisoners.Photography played...

A mother for many

3 weeks ago - 05 May 2019 | People

Swakopmund • Otis Finck The secret to a long life is having respect for your elders.Granny Magrietha “Mamas” Haoses, who is turning 103 year old...

Latest News

Raak nou deel van Klub...

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Society

Enige ouer sal kan getuig dat om 'n kind groot te maak, aan jou beursie knaag. Juis daarom vra Huis Maerua kinderhuis vir bystand.Individue en...

Een man se roeping om...

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Social Issues

Yolanda Nel Ongeag die uitdagings wat een man self in die gesig staar, het hy besluit dat wanneer God praat, dan bly jy steeds gehoorsaam...

Red die borste

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Health

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Hierdie entrepreneur wil graag in sy gemeenskap terugploeg en dus het hy besluit om geld in te samel om bystand te...

Ontbyt saam vir boere

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Disasters

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel Wanneer ons eet, dink ons selde aan hoe die eier, melk of spek op ons bord beland het. Die meeste...

Erongo shudders under weight of...

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Disasters

Swakopmund • Leandrea LouwAlmost 13 000 bags of maize meal were distributed to households in the Karibib and Daures constituencies between November 2018 to March...

Graduate shares her story

1 day - 26 May 2019 | People

Walvis Bay • Leandrea LouwChloé Paulse (25), a graduate of the University of Namibia (Unam) medical school, grew up in the salty and dusty streets...

International recognition for Sun Cyles

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Environment

Windhoek • Yolanda Nel The co-founder of Namibia's own Sun Cycles was awarded the National Energy Globe Award during SACREEE's first industrial energy efficiency conference...

Plans to place water along...

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Disasters

//Ai-/Ais • Erwin Leuschner The popular Fish River hiking trail in southern Namibia is threatened with closure at the end of the month due to...

The world can be your...

1 day - 26 May 2019 | Education

The international vlogging competition Faces2Hearts is a competition organised by the European Union that aims to finding 20 young vloggers to take part in a...

Load More