Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ghana Recycling

Since the people of Ghana have very little in material goods they are very efficient at using their resources effectively. What we throw away without a second thought they save and find a way to make it into something useful and even beautiful. We were able to visit a bead factory outside of Accra and watched a demonstration on how to make beads using discarded glass bottles.

It starts with the dirt from the many termite hills that are found along the road side. These mounds are everywhere and are very large and durable. We happen to be standing in a rainstorm. We are melting but the dirt hill is not! The clay dirt is strong due to the spit the termites use to hold the dirt together. The dirt can not only withstand storms but extremely high temperatures. This dirt is used to make kilns for creating beautiful African beads.

It looks like trash but it is not! These bottles will eventually be made into glass beads. They make the beads a few different ways. The bottles can simply be broken into small pieces, melted and then poured into molds and fired. The beads will be the color of the bottles that were used. The bottles can also be crushed (by using hand tools) into a fine sand. They dye the sand different colors and carefully layer it in the molds to create designs on the beads.

On the ground are empty molds that are also made out of the termite dirt to withstand the heat. The man uses the long pole sitting at his feet to put the molds in and out of the kiln. Once the glass gets very hot it is pulled out and the worker carefully turns the beads in the mold to make them completely round. He also puts the hole in the middle at this time for the string. The kiln has a hole in the back where the workers are constantly pushing more wood into the fire to keep the kiln at a constant high temperature.

After the beads cool they are taken over to be washed and shined. They are pored onto this rock where the worker uses sand, water, and his hands to rub them until they are clean and shiny.

The final product! Sister Saunders trying on the beautiful African bracelets made out of recycled bottles. These bracelets sell for 1 GHc which is .70 cents in US currancy. So whenever you go to throw a glass bottle or jar away just think what you could do with a little time, heat, and talent!


  1. dave, uh elder saunders,

    don't want to "trunk you out" but though you might be interested in knowing that i got a hole-in-one on #3 at bear lake last week.

    keep up the work. i am still active in the church.


  2. a little time, heat, talent and termite hill! Where exactly can I get my hands on one of those? I don't think they are common in Millville. ;)

  3. so it's basically "termite jewelry!" interesting. perhaps i'll save .70 cents and buy me one. yep! in fact, i will.

  4. Well Dave and Margaret, it looks like you might have found a new career once you get back in America. I will start collecting the bottles.