After Mary Honeybun retired from her nursing career she discovered that she could not “retire” from her passion to help people.
During her time as a nurse, Mary realised how important it is for a person (and their family and carers) disabled by an accident or a medical condition, to have the mobility that a wheelchair affords them. Mary also recognised that the bulk of people in need of wheelchairs were often unable to buy their own. So in her “golden years” Mary looked for a way in which to help those in need, and help them in a way that lightened the load on the planet too.
After significant research Mary hit on an idea: Every day millions of loaves of bread are eaten, which means that an equal number of bread bag closures are destined for the landfill. Breadtags are made from high-density polystyrene, which gives them value as a recyclable product. Mary started collecting breadtags and then sold them to a network of buyers who in turn recycled them into seedling trays, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture, coat hangers, poles and decking. The buyers would pay per kilogram and Mary would use the proceeds from these sales to purchase wheelchairs. On average, 3 wheelchairs are distributed for every 1 000 000 breadtags recycled.
Today, the “Breadtags for Wheelchairs” project is administered by the Polystyrene Packaging Council of South Africa. Together with the help of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (which helps to assess the requirements of the recipient and ensuring they get the right wheelchair for their needs), corporates and thousands of bread tag collectors, the initiative has already distributed hundreds of wheelchairs to chosen recipients and tons of plastic has been kept out of landfills. This simple yet effective idea, born from one woman’s dream, has now spread beyond SA borders to Japan and Australia.
If you’d like to get involved, follow breadtagsforwheelchairsSA on Facebook