Zéro Déchet Sénégal

Interview with Farima Tidjani, Zéro Déchet Sénégal’s Vice President of International Relations

Brief history of Zéro Déchet Sénégal?

The organization was formally established in March 2018, by Charlotte Spinazé (former president of Zéro Déchet Sénégal) when she gave birth to her first baby and realized the overconsumption in her baby’s world. She started to look at alternative ways of living, which led to her establishing Zéro Déchet Sénégal. The organization is an environmental protection association that campaigns for the reduction and sustainable management of waste. They have 200 individual members that work to bring awareness about zero waste to families, companies, and organizations.  

 

What are your organization’s top priorities?

The organization’s top objective is to reduce waste and wastefulness by addressing the root cause of waste production, as well as to improve the reuse of what is produced. Our approach entails: 

  • Refuse: refuse what we don’t need.
  • Reduce: buy only the necessary quantities, avoid waste.
  • Return to the earth: compost organic matter.
  • Reuse: prefer reusable items, buy second-hand, borrow or rent, repair, sell or give away what you no longer need. 

As Zéro Déchet Sénégal we act on different levels, by raising awareness about the issues and problems related to waste management in Sénégal during events, festivals, markets, and in schools. We also support communities, entrepreneurs, companies, and individual citizens in their waste reduction projects.

What are some of the organization’s main ongoing campaigns?

Some of our ongoing projects include Our Zero Waste School which involves the implementation of zero waste best practices in schools in Sénégal. We also have our zero waste island project, where we are working with the local community and different stakeholders to transition the Island of Ngor in Dakar Sénégal, to becoming zero waste. Our goal is to reduce 80% of the plastic waste on the island, by monitoring closely what goes in and out of the area and finding the necessary alternatives. We hope that this project will become a model that we can use to demonstrate this practice to other towns in Sénégal and encourage them to go to zero waste.

The biggest project we are working on is our zero waste Label initiative, a project in partnership with the Embassy of Portugal in Sénégal, which targets restaurants. This project aims to engage Dakar restaurants in reducing their plastic waste by offering them alternative solutions. The project focuses on reducing three types of waste: plastic bottles, straws, and coffee capsules. The organization did the work of looking for alternatives for these products and will help Senegalese restaurants make the transition. 

What are some of your organization’s significant accomplishments?

For us, our biggest accomplishment happens every day when a new Senegalese citizen is aware of zero waste or realizes how dangerous plastic and waste pollution can be for our health and our planet, and then changes their consumption habits for local alternatives that aim to minimize the waste production.

Do you collaborate with partners in other regions? If so, how?

We have many collaborations and implement a lot of joint projects with different stakeholders in Sénégal. We have also joined GAIA to be able to be part of an ecosystem of zero waste associations. We don’t try to reinvent the wheel and we are using a lot of project resources from GAIA to shape ours. We also recently joined the Cleanseas Campaign which works with governments, businesses, and citizens to eliminate the needless use of disposable plastics to protect our rivers, seas, and ecosystems.

What are the main environmental issues that Sénégal is facing?

Sénégal produces an estimated amount of 190 kgs of waste per year per inhabitant. Most of our waste is abandoned or burned, which causes considerable pollution of the soil, air, and ocean.

We have seen the effects of this as one of the largest landfill sites in Sénégal, Mbeubeuss, is located next to a lake that runs into the ocean. The garbage from the landfill is consequently running into the ocean. This is sad as it is affecting tourism in the area, restaurant owners located nearby, and the local fishermen. 

How did COVID-19 impact Zéro Déchet Sénégal?

COVID-19 came with its own issues of single-use items. Unfortunately, the number of single-use masks, medical equipment, and the amount of hydroalcoholic gel increased exponentially in Sénégal. There has been a recent shift to fabric masks since the beginning of the crisis, which is very good. The government has also implemented a certification so that people would trust the distributed fabric masks. We are now working with doctors to see how we can also reduce medical single-use supplies and hope to be able to change habits in this domain.

How do you see the organization’s work evolving in the next few years?

In the next few years, we really would like to have more presence in the other regions. We are now supporting a lot of action in Dakar and would like to expand in the rest of Sénégal, with branches in each region of Sénégal. We would also like to captivate a wider population from different backgrounds, as well as to have more projects with local schools and organizations.

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