Environmental Entrepreneurship: Plastic Bags in Nairobi


When the environment gets neglected, we hear that government needs to take action. When the economy goes down the tubes, we are told that bureaucrats must come to our rescue.

But for Evans Githinji, a 32-year-old entrepreneur in Kenya, achieving prosperity and exhibiting proper stewardship is simply a matter of imagination and initiative. Kenya’s economy is far from thriving, yet Githinji has found a way to both curb environmental harm and bring value to his economy despite his disadvantages.

Hear his story here:

As the video tells us, Githinji’s efforts have led to the opening of 23 collection yards, each of which employs 100 youths in collecting plastic bags.

“I feel great,” says Githinji. “And I feel I’m doing something good for this nation.”

But would it have been better if the Kenyan government had stepped in long ago? Would it have been more efficient if taxpayer money had been poured into dumptrucks and garbage collectors? Would the government have a better grasp on wage rates than Githinji does? Would it be better for Kenyans if the government banned plastic bags altogether?

Perhaps, but I doubt it.

In any case, let’s go beyond that and ask this instead:

Would it have been better for Githinji as a person if the government had performed these trash-collecting activities in the first place?

Plastic Bags

For Githinji, plastic bags are a nuisance worth profiting from.

There are plenty of different routes you can take this, but what this video made me wonder was what the world would be like if we were told to meet needs rather than allowed to pursue them.

Nobody told Githinji there was a problem. No bureaucrat told him to build a business model or buy a recycling machine. He came to this solution on his own, and through it he is providing jobs, products, and cleanliness to his community.

How much value do such pursuits bring to our lives? Isn’t this the very stuff of life? The challenge, the risk, and the reward?

And more importantly, what happens when we begin to suck these opportunities away in the name of security?

(Note: The image of plastic bags is provided by swanksalot / / CC BY-SA 2.0)

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  • http://twitter.com/remnantculture/status/16780003099 Remnant Culture

    New post on plastic bag recycling in Nairobi: Environmental Entrepreneurship. Who needs government intervention? http://tiny.cc/66ngd #tcot

  • http://twitter.com/swanksalot/status/16802784614 Seth Anderson

    Environmental Entrepreneurship: Plastic Bags in Nairobi http://j.mp/cIMf1C

  • Sgermain

    please can you give me a physical adress to drop my plastic bottles, and for plastics bags

    thank you

  • Abdulmalikg

    how does one get in touch with Githinji? there is no contact information at all!!!!

  • WuonOtieno

    i would also love to get in touch with Githinji in nairobi? contact info please!

  • http://twitter.com/josephsunde/status/73763050565550080 Joseph Sunde

    @mwkruse Interesting bit on sanitation in Kenya. Another entrepreneur did something similar w/ plastic bags (& in Kenya!): http://bt.io/H2Kz

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002556192987 Msdp Waste

    am very much happy as amalso a project manager with a plastic project that empowers the youth in mukuru slums. i would like to get a in touch with evans githinji. my email is msdpwaste@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002556192987 Msdp Waste

    i like what evans is doing. I am aproject manager of a recycling project in mukuru slums. if i can get i touch with evans then it would be so good

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002556192987 Msdp Waste

    this is a community initiative for the less fortunate youths inmukuru slums. mukuru slums development project has a plastic recycling centre for th youths in mukuru slums and is located off mareba lunga lunga road. our telephone for the project manager is 0721469963 who would also to work with githinji. msdp waste is dealing more with plastics HD and PET(hard plastics & waterbottles). but with plastics bags we want to partner with githinji because we only collect them

  • Isabella

    Hi msdp waste. Did you finally contact githinji? I too would like to contact him. How about your project? What kind of machinery do you use, and have you found a way to limit the emissions of bad fumes?

  • Jomillsjnr

    hello, I am in the UK, and i would also like to get in touch with Mr. Evans Githinji in nairobi. any leads to himm, i.e contact info or email please! i currently work in the waste management industry in London with plans for this elsewhere in afric andi need teachers and visionaries like this..what a gift to the African continent. Help
    email is jomillsjnr@yahoo.co.uk