Community engagement! Women participants at the Tshwane Leadership Foundation, Burgers Park, Pretoria, developing pot-fillers as part of the TUT Sustainable Together design project.
The project was awarded funding of 6 000 Euros by the Goethe-Institut and the British Council towards promoting a sustainable circular model in South Africa with the Lampstand Teacher Training College, the partner institution in Kenya. The latter is headed by Linder Cheruno.
Together with Cheruno, the project team comprises of a fourth-year Fashion Design student, Christopher Tom, and his lecturers, Soloshna Naidoo, Professor Anne Mason and Karla Tissiman. Research findings indicate that South Africa produces 90 million tons of textile waste annually, of which only 1% is recycled. Due to the volume of textile waste produced, the sustainable model had to explore how it can be recycled effectively and not end up in fertile landfills.
Unfortunately, the fashion and textile industries play a huge role in waste disposal, with dire consequences to the environment. Fashion Design students produce many garments and there is an abundant amount of textile waste that is discarded into bins.
The proposal by Tom and the team is intent on putting the latter to good use and finding a sustainable and innovative business solution to the pothole challenge in the country.
By the end of last year, the South African National Roads Agency said the country’s roads had an estimated 25 million potholes. Potholes are not a mere inconvenience but can cause damage to vehicles and in severe cases lead to devastating road accidents.
According to Tom, the textile waste will be harvested at the Department of Design Studies (Fashion Design) and sorted into piles of biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste. Following which, the waste will be shredded and wetted before being formed into golf-ball-sized balls known as pot-fillers. The latter will be popped into the potholes and finished off with cement and tar.
Naidoo indicated that the project is also community-based and part of a nation-building objective as the pot-fillers were developed by women participants from the Tshwane Leadership Foundation in Pretoria that were affected by unemployment and Gender-based Violence (GBV). Participants received a stipend amount and meal packs over the time they spent making the pot-fillers.
In March, Tom and the team piloted the project where potholes were filled in Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, under the supervision of the local municipality. The efficacy of using the pot-fillers is closely being monitored.
The project was also successfully carried out in Kenya and project managed by Prof Mason.
The TUT Sustainable Together design project will be showcased at Levi’s, the Haus of Strauss Africa, Parktown North, Johannesburg, on 13 May 2023 from 13:00 to 19:00. The TUT team will be showcasing a documentary of the work done in South Africa and Kenya at the event.