SEP 07, 2016 6:33 AM PDT

Refugees recycle: boats to bags


Most any situation can call for innovation. Twenty-four-year-old Amsterdam native Floor Nagler took that call.

Earlier this year, Nagler had been volunteering on the Greek island of Lesbos to help refugees disembark from boats upon their arrival to Europe. During this process, she noticed that many people lost theirs bags along the route. She also noticed that the boats and life jackets carrying people over to safety were often discarded along the beaches, and that these materials were piling up.
 

The textile student saw a problem and a solution. "I saw the excessive amount of material that's left behind on the beaches," Nagler told Radio Free Europe, "and me, as a maker, I was of course extremely inspired to design a bag that's put together with the least effort."

She returned to Amsterdam with over 40 pounds of boat material and teamed up fellow Dutch artist Didi Aaslund, 27, to figure out what could be done. They came up with a napsack that could be constructed using only a pair of scissors, punch pliers, and a rivet gun, a tool that holds together metal fasteners. The upcycled bags look like waterproof, military-grade rucksacks, with straps from life vests closing them shut. Each costs around $3 to make.

Nagler and Aaslund, along with other volunteers held workshops to teach the refugees how to make their own sacks. The sense of being able to make something of their own to keep was inspiring to many people, especially those who still had a long way to go on their journeys.

Although Raida Matar, a 13-year-old Yazidi refugee from Sinjar in Iraq, didn’t understand the English directions, she learned to make her own bag by watching how to punch holes in forest-green boat fabric and to fasten the seams together with rivets. "We made the bag ourselves," she says. "And we came over in boats like this."
 
Volunteers in Lesbos. Photo: It Works
 
Not only are the bags reducing waste but they are meeting the needs of the refugees and migrants who arrive with little to begin their long journeys through Europe carrying their belongings on their back. Nagler and Aaslund call their idea It Works, to reflect a pragmatic approach to a bag created by and for migrants. Their project is part of Oddysea, a new Greek organization that aims to make bags and wallets out of discarded boats and vests, and to sell the finished products to benefit migrants. Talk about an environmental innovation!

Sources: Mashable, The Huffington Post, Radio Free Europe, Tech Insider
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 06, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
AUG 06, 2021
Your Coffee Could be Harming the Oceans
Caffeine is one of the most widely consumed psychoactive drugs in the world. Approximately sixty plant species produce c ...
AUG 12, 2021
Plants & Animals
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
AUG 12, 2021
Why Sunflower Heads Face East
You may have noticed that sunflowers can move their 'heads' or capitula to track the sun as its position changes during ...
SEP 15, 2021
Plants & Animals
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
SEP 15, 2021
Using Food Waste To Make Rechargeable Batteries
Back in 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated that nearly 133 billion pounds of food went to waste, ...
SEP 20, 2021
Plants & Animals
Oxygen Levels Are Dropping In The Ocean, Affecting Fish Ecosystems
SEP 20, 2021
Oxygen Levels Are Dropping In The Ocean, Affecting Fish Ecosystems
While it may seem counterintuitive, fish can suffocate in the water. They rely on the oxygen (specifically, dissolved ox ...
SEP 27, 2021
Infographics
What is the Future of Solar Energy?
SEP 27, 2021
What is the Future of Solar Energy?
Solar energy prices have significantly dropped in the last few decades due to advances in technology and government ince ...
OCT 10, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
Who Were the Etruscans? A Genetic Study Provides Some Answers
OCT 10, 2021
Who Were the Etruscans? A Genetic Study Provides Some Answers
The Etruscans lived in what is now Italy from about 800 BCE to the first century CE. Their language is now gone...
Loading Comments...