By Liesl Clark
Here’s where to donate a few dollars to our cause. It will truly make a difference for the hundreds of illiterate children picking through the garbage on the streets of Kathmandu.
It all started on a bike ride. We kept seeing garden gloves along the side of the road. In fact, we had seen the gloves lying there for weeks and finally decided to pick them up. One by one, over the course of about 2 weeks, we had managed to collect 20 pairs!
We’re an island of avid gardeners, farmers, and a world-famous garden tour called “Bainbridge in Bloom.” Twelve months of gardening weather here on Puget Sound has afforded us 4 seasons of dirt digging. The problem is that the gardeners’ (or perhaps it’s the hired landscapers’) gloves too often end up along the sides of the roads, having fallen from the backs of landscaper’s trucks, farmers’ tractors, or islander’s cars. Being a food-grower myself, I couldn’t just let those gloves rot in the ditches.
My children and I have been collecting them: pulling to the side of the road, jumping out of the car, jumping back in, celebrating, for a year now and have 45 pairs plus about 50 singles ready for a mate. Do you have a single garden or work glove awaiting a partner? Don’t throw it out! Send it to us so we can marry it to one we have here because their next life is going to be GOOD.
All pairs of gloves we reunite will go to Kathmandu to protect the hands of the rag pickers there. Life as a rag picker is tough, really tough, and many are children in their pre-teens. These kids, and plenty of adults, make a living picking through other people’s trash to compile enough polyethylene plastic or PET plastic bottles to send to India for recycling. It’s a decent living, but the conditions are among the worst on the planet. We want to help by giving them the garden gloves we’ve found on our streets and in your garden sheds.
Most rag pickers have no gloves at all. They pick bare-handed through broken glass and human excrement to find their quarry, and the best protection they can have, in my humble estimation, is for their hands (of course it doesn’t hurt to have a face mask, too.) We’ve seen some rag pickers with just one glove, as that’s all they have.
In May, Trash Backwards will travel to Nepal to give gloves to Kathmandu’s rag pickers to aid in protecting them from the unsanitary conditions in which they work daily. Over two hundred rag pickers work at the city’s dump some 50 miles from Kathmandu. But countless children pick plastics from the Bagmati River as well as the streets of Kathmandu and having a glove or two could save a child from infection, disease, and dysentery which comes with the territory.
Want to help us protect the rag pickers, those moving Kathmandu’s trash backwards into new goods, to help reduce the mountains of garbage in the foothills of the Himalaya? There are 3 things you can do to help:
1) Use our Trash Backwards app and indicate when you’ve done something good. By clicking the “I Did It” button on any individual solution, you show us that you’ve changed your behavior to help reduce waste. These simple clicks that show what you’ve done to reduce, reuse, and recycle provide us with data to show that a social enterprise like ours that educates through social media can make a difference. Every “I Did It” click means we can do some good, too. It’s a One for One correlation between your action at home/in the office and our action worldwide. For every “I Did It” click in our app, we’ll do our own good: We’ll hand out a pair of gloves to a rag picker, we’ll remove batteries from a water source in a village, we’ll collect plastics from rivers and shorelines, we’ll conduct a classroom waste audit. Every action you do enables us to do our greater good and ultimately find the support to do even more! So, please visit us at TrashBackwards.com and find some solutions to our global waste that you can undo in your own small scale, then hit the “I Did It” button and we’ll do the same. The more you do, the more we’ll do in return.
2) Send us your odd (or pairs of) garden gloves. We’ll likely have a match and can then get them into the hands of someone in need. Please know that the conditions are deplorable for a rag picker. Gloves could save someone from infection and truly make a difference. Does one glove have a hole in the thumb but the other is fine? Send us the good one!
Trash Backwards Garden Glove Love
6027 NE Baker Hill Road
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
3) Simply help fund our efforts to improve the lives of Kathmandu’s rag pickers and kids in higher villages. You can do so by donating much needed funds to the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation so we can get our duffel bags of gloves (we donate shoes and books too) over to Nepal and remove toxic waste from the highest watersheds in the world while also helping to increase literacy in local villages. As little as $20 can go such a long way in Nepal. We’ve been bringing children’s books by porter, yak, horse, and donkey up to the highest villages in the Himalaya for 7 years now, and have opened 7 children’s libraries called The Magic Yeti Libraries. We bring books up and toxics down. Our target this spring is to remove batteries, CFL light bulbs, and plastics from the rivers, streams, irrigation ditches and water supply of villages between 9,000 and 14,000 feet. We’ll get these toxic materials out of the pristine waters and bring them down to a municipal organization that can dispose of them responsibly. We all live downstream of these waters, but for those who live in the villages nearby, the battery and plastics-laden streams need to be cleaned up as soon as possible.
Garden Glove Love was inspired by England’s Glove Love, a nationwide movement to rescue single gloves and give them a new life on the hands of eager people wanting to help reduce our overall impact on the environment.
Start today with your efforts to reduce your own impact on our planet by doing some good with the stuff you already have in your life. Reduce, reuse, re-gift, repair, and rethink your material assets as you use our Trash Backwards app and you’ll inevitably help others and our planet, too.