I first heard of the ReTrade Project through my friend Vicky, from Kiekie Communication.

Vicky does some work for The Waste Trade Company – another recycling company in Port Elizabeth.  The Waste Trade Company collects recyclable waste from homes, townhouse complexes, and office parks to sort at their depo and then sell on to other companies who process it.

The ReTrade Project’s focus is slightly different.  Jessica, a volunteer at ReTrade, got in touch with me after seeing a call I put out on the Fox & Owl Media Facebook page looking for charitable organisations that I can assist with a website and digital marketing training.

While we were exchanging emails, I mentioned this website and asked if they would like to share more about what they do and what their dreams are for the organisation.

This was their response.

Q:  What are the basics of the organisation’s operations?

A:  The ReTrade Project is passionate about restoring hope and dignity to the poor and marginalised of our city.  We do this by building relationships and giving access to resources to which individuals previously would not have had access.  Families, individuals and businesses in the community bring their sorted recyclable waste such as tins, plastic bottles, cardboard, white paper, mixed paper and glass.  We exchange waste with our traders, who are from underprivileged backgrounds, with a ‘value-for-value’ system though the exchange of recyclable goods for basic essentials such as food, toiletries and clothing.

We aim to empower those in need by promoting worth and dignity for all.  Our development model encourages work ethic, savings, responsibility and self-management.  At no charge, we accept recycling from the wider community, which in turn assists our project to continue offering those in need a hand up, instead of a hand-out.


Q:  How did the company’s founders decide on the concept?

A:  The ReTrade Project began as a result of need within a community where underprivileged people were coming to a church feeding pantry regularly for food.  Our core team decided that enough was enough, and that empowerment was something that was missing when people come “begging”.  The concept has grown and developed over time.  We are city focussed where we open up to anyone in the city of PE to drop off their recycling.  Our concept and big dream is to grow our recycling depo to be a hub in the city for sustainable living, environmental education and artisanal training.

Q:  What was the motivation to start this organisation?

A:  Starting this organisation came out of the need for us to give back to those in need but in a way that mattered.  We were tired of seeing the traditional “hand out” mentality disempower people.  Maria Grewar, the founder of ReTrade, was able to set up the small trading store 4 years ago running off purely donated food items from the local community.  We have grown so much since then!


Q:  What change are you seeking to make in society?

A:  We seek to leave a legacy of sustainable living in our city. ReTrade has a vision to see the upliftment of people and the environment. We aim to find our traders gaining a strong work ethic, ingenuity, and responsibility as they participate in our programmes. We also hope that the wider society around the project find their active role too – the mom and her school-going child, the business owner down the street, and the local community groups who gather regularly. If we inspire and innovate the way society sees recycling and giving back, we’re winning!

Q:  What motivates you, the founders and employees, to keep going?

A:  Knowing that we are making a tangible difference in the everyday lives of families in the city where a table my not have had food on it – it now does.

We strongly believe in the model of giving a hand up instead of a hand out.  We wanted to move away from the traditional soup kitchen system towards a empowering process where our traders feel like they bring value to the project too.

We love that he projects calls the community to action – to be active citizens.


Q:  What has running the organisation taught you?

A:  I have gained increased awareness of the waste around us and in my own daily life.  I now stop for a moment before throwing that cardboard box into the dustbin destined for the landfill and think “this could go elsewhere”.  Learning to think practically and inspire those around you to also stop and choose to redirect their waste.  It’s an investment process in many ways.

Some of our team also reflected and share that:
I have learnt to be aware of the significance of basic needs in people’s everyday lives – tea, beans, sugar or a toothbrush. As an organisation we have learnt how simple groceries hold such hope for our traders.

We now see litter as an opportunity for people rather than a problem.

Q:  What would you like to communicate to the larger community through your organisation?

A:  Through our organisation we would like to communicate the need to think green.  To see waste as a platform to give back and invest in a cleaner community in years to come.  We hope to stand for worth and dignity of those less fortunate who struggle to participate in a world that requires them to have money to purchase goods and essentials.  We would like to invite society to actively participate and find a way to be a part of creating a greener world.

Hi, we are Eon & Melissa

We are a husband-and-wife team who are parents to a beautiful dachshund called Milo.

We are on a journey towards consciously choosing better options for the products we bring into our home and use in our daily lives.

We are sharing what we learn on this website and blog.

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