The new plastic upcycling workshop of Habibi.Works - known as Re.Works - makes use of innovative technology to convert plastic waste into urgently needed products for members of both the local and asylum seeker and refugee communities. By including a diverse group of participants, this project workshop will enable members from these, largely disparate, communities to work towards the common goal of a cleaner, more sustainable environment for all, co-creating a future that allows for agency!
Katsikas, Ioannina, Epirus region of Greece
Re.Works, the plastic upcycling workshop of Habibi.Works will tackle two of the biggest societal challenges of our time: the exclusion of asylum seekers and refugee communities from European societies and the pollution of the environment.
Refugees and asylum seekers in Greece face extremely limited opportunities for education, employment and engagement with the local society. Habibi.Works offers a space where individuals from all backgrounds can learn and share skills, develop their own solutions to everyday challenges and use their creativity. The Re.Works workshop will become the 12th working area of Habibi.Works, with a focus on promoting sustainable practices and upcycling plastic waste to become beautiful, practical products.
Habibi.Works’ approach is premised on the belief that each individual is the expert of their own life. It actively counters the narrative that refugees and asylum-seekers require “help” and “handouts”; by contrast, it highlights the perseverance and limitless talent to be found in the refugee community. The makerspace therefore does not exist to do anything for anyone, but rather to enable and empower individuals to find solutions for themselves.
Our approach is to work at eye level with people, in this particular case with persons living in the refugee camp of Katsikas and members of the local Greek community. Habibi.Works is a living example of the values we would like to see in our societies: respect, solidarity and equality.
The first phase of planned activities includes the set-up of the Habibi.Works “Re.Works” workshop. This will involve a construction phase to create a functional workshop area which includes a plastic waste collection station where anyone can come to leave their plastic waste, sort it and clean it to be recycled.
To make the workshop more accessible to members of the surrounding communities, Habibi.Works will partner with local businesses nearby and designate them as partner collection points where additional plastic waste can be collected and transported to Habibi.Works.
With the workshop in place, Habibi.Works will organise regular workshops where participants receive information about plastic waste, its implications, and the methods to recycle it. They will also be walked through the process of turning plastic waste into functional, practical items that improve their living conditions, through a participatory learning model.
To promote the workshop activities as well as awareness of the issue of plastic waste, Habibi.Works will organise cleanups with camp inhabitants and other members of the refugee and asylum seeker community, as well as the local Greek community. This will have the added benefit of creating a point of meaningful encounters between these communities. The plastic collected will be used for the workshops mentioned above.
The expected outcomes of this approach would be the following:
1. Increased awareness of the dangers of single use plastic, create an understanding about ways to avoid it and take action to recycle it.
2. Reduction of plastic waste in the area and strengthening of protection of the local environment,
3. Improved living conditions in the camps and the region through the production of needed objects with recycled plastic as a raw material.
4. Meaningful encounters and points of connection created between the local population and the refugees
The project will encourage members of different communities to get involved in two different social and political issues; Directly in the issue of plastic recycling, protection of the environment and sustainability; and indirectly, through the shared activities around this topic, in the issue of integration of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. The members of different communities will be involved in design processes and decision making from the beginning of the project.
Through providing information about plastic waste and attractive alternatives, people can assume responsibility over the use of plastic products. Through creating shared experiences and a platform for social encounters, prejudices against people from other backgrounds will be reduced.
The people behind this project actually represent two teams: the team of the makerspace Habibi.Works in northern Greece and the team of Not For Your Distinction. While the people in Habibi.Works have been working in the context of Greek refugee camps for up to 5 years, the members of Not For Your Distinction are experts within the Precious Plastic movement and will share their expertise in this area, as well as establish an upcycling workshop, with the makers of Habibi.Works. The powerful combination of experience regarding the complex and demanding socio-political context in Greece and the practical know-how about the concept, network and equipment needed to run a plastic upcycling lab give this project the professional and motivational foundation that is needed.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
The major annual expenses will be:
Space rent - 9960 EUR
Workshop supervisors' stipend - EUR 7200
Personnel costs - EUR 7200
Machine acquisition and upkeep - 5000 EUR
Materials - 3000 EUR
Electricity costs - 1500 EUR
Food costs - 600 EUR
Total costs: 34460 EUR
We are keen to hear how other projects and initiatives have successfully included local communities and local institutions. Moreover, we are always interested in learning about the experience of other projects and people who work for social change and believe in solidarity, respect and equality.