Young artist urges us to ‘Expect the unexpected’

BLAIRGOWRIE – Young artist Nosipho Nyide heard about the Touch of Genius Gallery through a friend, before exhibiting at their Pan-African Art Fair. Read More

 Art and Waste Management

The South African government identified in the National Waste Management Strategy, a number of waste management challenges facing the South African economy. These emanate from the growing population and economy, complexity of waste streams as a result of urbanization and industrialization, backlog of waste services especially for informal areas, unreliable waste data, weak policy and regulatory environment, poor infrastructure management, low levels of capital investment, pervasive under-pricing, few waste treatment options, few compliant landfills and the absence of recycling infrastructure that promotes waste separation at source (

Other contributing factors include lack of awareness on the negative impacts of waste particularly for the uneducated and the youth in various communities; lack of incentives that could encourage people to manage their wastes ideally from source especially for households or small businesses among others. A lot of people do also do not realize how wastes such as air pollution, ground water contamination, poor disposal of health wastes and many other can adversely affect their health and environment especially if these wastes are not disposed of in a proper way. What about aesthetics? Poor waste disposal processes create a filthy environment lowering the value of property and breeding germs and diseases that can have a lifetime impact on the various affected communities.

 The South African government identified Waste Recycling as one of the easily viable and sustainable ways of addressing some of the huge waste management challenges faced by various municipalities in the country.  While we continue to see the youth wallowing in poverty, joblessness and crime, there are opportunities in the waste recycling space which can foster job creation for the unemployed youth in the country.

Driving around Johannesburg and many parts of the country, one can already see a lot of informal  waste recyclers collecting recyclable wastes from bins across streets just to earn a living. While they often cause obstruction on our roads and sometimes litter our parks; the activities of these informal recyclers could however be managed better if the government can get into a partnership with these informal recyclers thereby equipping them with proper trucks, gears, salaries and protective clothing to enable them function more effectively. According to Engineering News However, “the value to the economy of additional recycling or recovery – including the avoided financial costs and externalities associated with disposal to landfill of R19-billion a year and the value of resources in waste – would be R36-billion a year”. (

In the visual arts space, wastes can have an important role to play artistically. In schools, we see a lot of young kids already using waste plastics, old tyres and bottles to create amazing works of art, however there is still the issue of support from the State in terms of promoting or piloting these innovative ideas on a larger scale. How do we empower the unemployed youth to venture into this sector so that they can create jobs for themselves?

I have come across works of art created from very simplistic concepts to natural waste material such as wood, bottles and cans among others to  beautify homes, offices and living spaces. Typical examples can be seen in the pictures below where natural wood has been processed to create amazing furniture and works of art that could be sold at galleries, furniture and decor shops across the world, however there has to be strict adherence to the use of natural wood to ensure that trees are protected from exploitation.

Written by Ikechukwu Oseloka Nwokedi

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