Am I Blind? A Global Opportunity for Re-Use and Sharing
Am I blind because I do not see?
Africa. . . a land of enormous beauty, of warm people, of colorful traditions, of enormous diversity, and of devastating poverty. But with poverty, comes wealth. Africa is a land where everything has value, where someone’s trash is always another person’s resource, where throwing a plastic bottle out the window is recycling, because someone will come along and use that bottle. It is a land of incredible potential. . . and brilliant INNOVATION, IMAGINATION, and CREATIVITY. In Africa, children make toy cars out of plastic bottle tops and soap boxes. School teachers make school bells out of truck tire rims. People make bungee cords by cutting up and slicing bicycle inner tubes. They make cook-stoves out of old metal roofing and even cars. Everything has value.
America (USA). . . a land of enormous beauty, of amazing opportunity, of helpful people, of diverse neighborhoods, of incredible wealth, and of enormous waste. It is a country that, as Annie Leonard states in The Story of Stuff, makes up 5% of the world’s population, consumes 30% of its resources and creates 30% of its waste. It has built an economy on extraction, manufacturing, consumption, and disposal. It is also a land of incredible potential and brilliant INNOVATION, IMAGINATION, and CREATIVITY. It is a land where old clothes are used to make quilts, where magazines are made into trendy purses, and where Olsenhaus has made its 2010 collection of peep-toes (that’s right, women’s dress shoes!!!) from obsolete, analog TV screens.
I grew up in America . . . and I grew up again in Africa. There, I learned a different pace of life, a different appreciation for people, and an admiration for my own country. Most of all, I learned that we are all the same people, separated by our opportunities and experiences. We all care about our children, and we all care about the environment, but we do not all see the same opportunities. The child in America does not see the toy in the soap box. He cannot imagine it. A fashion designer in Africa does not see the shoe in the TV. She cannot imagine it. Are they blind?
The solutions are there. It is just a matter of seeing them.
By Ian Moise
Ian Moise is founder and CEO of ReUseConnection, a global website promoting the re-use of material goods by allowing people in different countries to share and discuss how they reuse various items. He currently resides in Washington DC but has lived in, traveled to, or worked in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America. He works with his father, Samuel Moise, a computer programmer who lives in Meadow Vista, California.