Dumping and burning trash, which litter the area as well as release smoke and pollutants into the atmosphere and oceans, are the most common practices of removing waste in Senegal. In particular, burning piles of trash in the open creates a massive health hazard for those exposed to it, both through direct inhalation as well as ingesting contaminated food and drinking water.
These health hazards include: irritation, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, cancer, damage to the central nervous system, reproduction and development problems, suppression of the immune system, aggravation of respiratory conditions, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, and cardiac arrhythmia and heart attacks.
This is a major problem in the Mbour community, as in many developing communities across the globe. In 2017, we launched an initiative with Georgetown University’s Renewable Energy and Environment Network (GREEN) to implement a sustainable EcoBrick-based waste management program, which was piloted on-site January 2018.
So what are EcoBricks?
This waste management solution consists of plastic bottles stuffed solid with non-biological waste to create a reusable building block. These “bricks” can be used as a free form of sustainable infrastructure.
Types of waste that can be stuffed including:
- Plastic Bags
- Fish nets
In our most recent trip, we aimed to use only locally sourced materials to build a planter at Ecolé Natangué. The school wanted to plant a mango tree in their sandy courtyard to provide more fresh food for their nutrition program. This symbol of sustainable waste management was built using concrete as a foundation and cob (a mixture of clay, sand and water) to glue the bottles together. A thin layer of concrete was placed on top for smooth seating.