In Kafr Alabad, a village located between Tulkarm and Nablus, Rawan Rajab, a 22-year-old Palestinian woman, has created Blue Stone, a pro-environmental recycling initiative. From solid waste, especially glass, Rawan creates decorative stones that can be used to embellish walls or to make flower pots.
“I came up with the idea of Blue Stone project after the coronavirus and made it happen to recycle the solid waste material that you can find everywhere in nature. We can use this source that is lost in nature to produce beautiful materials that can be used as interior decorations.’ asserts Rawan.
While the population in West Bank and Gaza is growing fast, the amount of waste generated by it is likely to increase within the year coming. In 2019, Palestinians generated nearly 4,333 tons of solid waste per day, or a total of around 1.58 million tons the entire year.
A scientific study made in 2020 asserts that only 1 percent of all solid waste is currently being recycled. ( https://ps.boell.org/en/2020/10/07/palestine-solid-waste-management-under-occupation#:~:text=Attempts%20for%20waste%20sorting%20and,waste%20is%20currently%20being%20recycled.)
For this reason, Rawan is trying to raise awareness of the ability of recycling and the urge to protect the environment against climate change: “This project is a way to preserve nature and help the community understand how they can protect nature while increasing the culture about how people deal with environmental issues.“
Indeed, for a young girl, the main issue is about habits and awareness. She considers that Palestinian should be more cautious and understand better where and how they can recycle.
Rawan tries to include as many people in her community as possible. For example, the first step of Blue Stone consists in collecting solid waste around the area. Thus, many people from the surrounding villages participate in the collection, supporting Rawan. The student, who has recently graduated in Applied Arts and Design, grinds the collected glass with a machine and mixes the result with cement and leftover wood and paper.
After that, she simply pours the mixture into silicone molds, adds coloring if she wishes, and waits for it to dry. With the help of her father, Rawan collects the stones which will be used either as decorations for wall facades or for various decorative utensils.
For the moment a local initiative, Blue Stone is set to expand nationally and probably internationally. Rawan sells the products she creates in the surrounding cities but also through her Instagram and Facebook pages. She hopes to soon set up a new local collection initiative, which consists of placing boxes in her village where people can sort and drop off materials that she will reuse.
Above all, this entrepreneur wants to make the new generation, especially young people, aware of the danger of the increase in solid waste, which represents a danger for the soil and the environment in general: “We are working on raising awareness about the environment, how we can protect it and how we can use the solid waste for recycling for the new generation, especially in the summer camp. We also held a special workshop for students and we are planning on working with Ministry of Education to give classes at school”.
Since the beginning of his initiative, which started in 2020, after the corona, Rawan has collected over 2000kg of solid waste. During the workshops, some participants collected almost 50kg in just one hour.
These figures should be a wake-up call to the urgency of environmental action. “We, as a youth, have energy and ambitions, and we have to work more to save nature and recycle these materials especially when we are witnessing climate change,” reminds Rawan.