Even before the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010, Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The earthquake made a bad situation even worse, with 100,000 people killed and another million people displaced. The country suffers from persistent poverty, 40% unemployment and the less serious problem of plastic waste. Now a company based in Pittsburgh, USA, has come up with a solution that addresses all three issues.
Thread was founded by Ian Rosenberger – a Pittsburgh native. Rosenberger has travelled extensively across Africa, Central America and the Caribbean; but it was the poverty he witnessed during his visit to Haiti just six weeks after the 2010 earthquake that changed his life. Startled by the poverty he witnessed and the 9 million pounds of plastic waste generated every month in Port-au-Prince, Rosenberger was keen to find a way of addressing both issues.
Having returned to the United States he carried out research and found that plastic bottles could be transformed into fabric and in turn create jobs to help the impoverished Haitians. Along with friends Lee Kimball and Frank Macinsky they established the non-profit organisation, Thread. The organisation partnered with Ramase Lajan (which means ‘picking up money’) who have a network of plastic collection centres across the country.
How It Works
Last year the organisation expanded its operation to Honduras and now collects almost 300,000 pounds of plastic waste every month from some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Western Hemisphere.
You can find out more about their work in the video below.
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