Crafts from Trash: Reduce, Reuse, Recreate!
TRASH BAGS of Honduras is a line of personal and home accessories handcrafted in Honduras from 100% post-consumer "trash." These beautiful products are made by the women of the TRASH BAGS Cooperatives in the remote mountain communities of Rio Negro and Matazano.
TRASH BAGS of Honduras accessories are woven from the snack chip bags that litter the streets and mountain communities of Honduras. Snack chips are part of the diet of poverty in Latin America as they are cheap, filling and readily available. This public health problem is compounded by the standard practice of burning trash, which contributes to air pollution and the high incidence of respiratory problems and cancer. In addition to income generation and community development, the TRASH BAGS Initiative is founded on the principle of repurposing as an alternative to burning trash.
Since its inception in 2003, the Manos de Madres (“Hands of Mothers”) TRASH BAGS Initiative has transformed the lives of the artisans, their families and communities by building capacity and empowering women to be agents of change. The women in the TRASH BAGS cooperatives in Rio Negro and Matazano have wrestled with the challenges of severe poverty and resource deprivation and emerged as confident and capable mothers and businesswomen.
In addition to becoming accomplished artisans, the women of the TRASH BAGS cooperatives have acquired basic literacy and rudimentary finance skills, empowering them to manage their production and income and to become active, contributing members of the cooperative. Honduran law requires that all cooperative members participate in a nominal savings program. As this money is returned to the member when she leaves the cooperative, it has become instrumental in enabling TRASH BAGS members to start other, more sustainable businesses, even serving as equity for micro-loans. Examples of such businesses are buying chickens to sell eggs, buying a donkey to rent out for transportation, and opening a small shop selling batteries and phone cards. While Manos de Madres was instrumental in starting the TRASH BAGS cooperatives, they are now completely run by the artisans and are considered among the most successful small craft cooperatives in Honduras. Manos de Madres is hopeful that the success of the TRASH BAGS cooperatives, in terms of income generation, women’s empowerment and reversing environmental degradation, can serve as a model that can be duplicated with other impoverished women in other settings.