Repurpose: Solar-powered school bags | the ReFab Diaries

Here's some inspiration from South Africa! Thato Kgatlhyane was only 18 years old when she and two friends set up Rethaka (Pty) Ltd - a for-profit, woman-owned purpose-driven business. Their first product was the Repurpose Schoolbag, a solar-powered, waterproof schoolbag for children, made from recycled plastic.

"Rethaka (Pty) Ltd aims to do what is right, not what is easy. Through our green innovations, we redefine societal problems into solutions. We make it our business to uncover sustainable opportunities that create a far-reaching impact for low-income communities, with a particular focus on children and women."

A Repurpose schoolbag is a recycled schoolbag that charges during the day and transforms into a light so that children can study when they get home. Here's why this matters in South Africa:

1. Reduce plastic pollution
Even though South Africa banned single-use plastic bags years ago, plastic pollution is still a problem. Made from 100% plastic shopping bags, these school bags provide an eco-friendly, durable, waterproof solution kids love.

2. Provide safe lighting where there isn't any
Approximately 11,4 million South African school children walk to school daily. Many do so along roads that are either unlit or very poorly lit. These bags provide increased visibility through the integration of retro-reflective material.

The other lighting issue in a country where access to electricity is unpredictable: expensive, dangerous kerosene lanterns. This common means of lighting kills at least 3 million people each year – mostly children and women. These bags increase study hours after dark with a safe, renewable energy light source that lasts up to 12 hours. 

Inspired? Follow Repurposed Schoolbags on Facebook and see the impact they're having. 

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