Oluwaseyi, a first-year law student at the University of Lagos, Nigeria, learned about Nigeria’s sustainable development goals three years ago.
“It has been two years since I made a personal decision to work towards achieving these goals, no matter how small it may seem,” Oluwaseyi says.
2017, Oluwaseyi was appointed the sustainable development goal six—clean water and sanitation—ambassador at The Nigerian Child Initiative, a nonprofit organization working to improve access to healthcare and mentorship for children in underserved communities. As ambassador, she revived her school’s environmental club, worked with classmates to recycle more than 10,000 plastic bottles in three months, spoke to 3,000 girls on the importance of sanitation and received the Social Impact award and a $100 grant, which led her to start U-Recycle Initiative Nigeria.
“I have always viewed poor waste management, which leads to land and water pollution as a very prevalent problem in Nigeria,” Oluwaseyi says. “However, people are yet to be properly educated about recycling.”
“One recycling issue we face is that in a majority of other states and rural areas there is little or no activity going on to promote recycling education and sustainable practices,” she continues. “The people in rural areas are still oblivious to the solution to this major problem. A vast majority are ignorant to the need to work together solve issues like climate change and poor waste management. More work needs to be done to promote proper awareness in these rural areas and communities.”
U-Recycle Initiative Nigeria is a team of more than 40 young people who are passionate about promoting sustainable recycling in Nigeria. Oluwaseyi and her team are involved in organizing workshops, supporting environmental clubs, building “U-Recycle Hubs” for segregating waste, organizing seasonal competitions, awareness walks, beach cleanups and more
“Since August 2018, we have been supported by various local and international organizations,” Oluwaseyi says.
Most recently, the initiative has been working with Global Recycling Foundation to host Nigeria’s first Global Recycling Day event. Nigeria is joining countries across the world today to celebrate Global Recycling Day, a Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) initiative that encourages action and change.
“I reached out to Global Recycling Foundation based in London who gave me positive feedback and have been really supportive,” Oluwaseyi says. “We laid out our plans and reached out to various environmental organizations for support as we set to host Nigeria’s first major Global Recycling Day event.”
Today, U-Recycle Initiative and Global Recycling Foundation in conjunction with Greenfingers Wildlife Initiative, Wildlife of Africa Conservation Initiative and Lagos Lagoon Waterkeepers are hosting a recycling “funfair” in Lagos featuring an upcycle fashion show, recycle games, expert talks, a recycle art exhibition and more.
“We are expecting 200 guests, including 10 schools, more than 20 environmental organizations and other enthusiastic youth all to celebrate the important role recycling plays in protecting our environment,” Oluwaseyi says.
After the Global Recycling Day event, Oluwaseyi says there is more work to be done.
“A lot of work needs to be done to promote recycling and sustainable practices in Nigeria,” she says. “U-Recycle is ready to synergize and put in our best to promote recycling and environmental consciousness in Nigeria and beyond.”