Hi everyone! I’m Spiffy, your favorite interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making a difference on the SDGs designed to protect our planet. Today I’m going to learn about the impact of plastic waste on the environment, and how End Plastic Pollution Uganda is working to make plastic waste a thing of the past. Join me as I welcome Nirere Sadrach, founder of End Plastic Pollution Uganda. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Welcome Nirere! Can you tell us what challenge you are addressing?
Nirere: Well, Spiffy, we are addressing issues concerning environmental protection, focusing on plastic pollution and climate change. Through our work, we are also addressing issues of poverty and education in local rural and urban communities, schools, and universities.
Spiffy: Can you talk a bit about what motivated you to work on the problem of plastic pollution? Sometimes it seems like a very overwhelming problem!
Nirere: I am a victim of the effects of a degrading environment, I know what it means to live in a climate that is breaking down. Growing up, I experienced how difficult it is to survive in places where plastic waste has choked the entire health system of the community. What keeps me motivated is the fact that we have solutions to these problems. However, the lack of desire to embrace these solutions has become a huge problem. I decided to take action, started End Plastic Pollution Uganda, and mobilized other young people to join me.
Spiffy: Well done, Nirere! I imagine you are going to inspire many more people to join you! I’m wondering how else your work and organization are helping to create a more equitable world?
Nirere: At End Plastic Pollution Uganda we understand that an equitable world is one where everybody can live in a safe and prosperous environment with no limitations. We are putting youth, girls, and women in charge to lead these efforts. We are representing the grassroots of the most affected communities. We are also putting the agenda of achieving the SDGs at the forefront to help guide our work.
Our volunteers with students at Kampala International University. (Image courtesy of Nirere Sadrach)
Spiffy: That sounds like a solid plan. Have you reached any milestones that you can tell us about? What kind of impact will your work have?
Nirere: One recent milestone has been our campaign of exposing the extent to which plastic waste has affected Uganda. We have managed to cover 16 Districts in three regions of the country and engaged 500,000 people in just one and a half years. We have come with reports about plastic pollution and are engaging in conversations at the national, regional, and international levels. This year we became a member of the global Break Free From Plastic movement, joining 11,000 organizations to demand serious action to end plastic pollution. Our work, data, and community activities are now informing and offering a platform for Ugandans to learn about plastic and its effects on the environment.
Spiffy: I’ve learned that a lot of entrepreneurs experience and learn from failure. What about you? Can you share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up?
Nirere: During my three years of university study, I started and closed two companies. This taught me a lot, and as a young entrepreneur, I have been shaped by my own mistakes. I gained several important lessons from those experiences. First, the importance of patience and consistency. Second, I realized that learning is important! The more skills you have, the more you can do, and offer up. And the more information you have about something, the more likely you are to make the right decisions. Finally, networking is great! Always step out, make friends, and find like-minded individuals.
Spiffy: What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone?
Nirere: Recently, I learned that art is a powerful thing. It’s amazing to see how messages about protecting our environment can be portrayed in colorful and unique artwork. During our expedition to visit the FlipFlopi, kids were amazed by the colorful boat and loved the fish sculpture that shows how plastic is dangerous to fish. Another thing I’ve learned from kids is the power of storytelling and poetry. We have started working on an exciting comic book for kids in Uganda and abroad, loaded with African stories and a message about the importance of protecting the "Pearl of Africa".
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you can leave with our readers to inspire them?
Nirere: As young people, we must understand that we are a generation in a time that needs serious change. We must be part of that change. No one is too little to make a difference. It’s many of those little actions that bring about the change we need. You are not too young to do something.
Spiffy: I will send that message loud and clear! Thanks for stopping in to talk to—and inspire all of us, Nirere. It’s been an honor!
Nirere Sadrach is a Ugandan environmental activist and social entrepreneur, and the founder of End Plastic Pollution Uganda. He holds knowledge in international business and sustainable business practices and loves taking in the natural sights around Africa. (Nominated by Greening Burundi. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 24, 2021)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.