Mary Honeybun is one incredible woman. Mary is an octogenarian who recently had a hip replacement and is struggling with her own personal rehabilitation, yet this determined woman has a cause and she collects breadtags! Yes – we talking about those little pieces of plastic that keep the plastic bag sealed around your loaf of bread! And why one can ask?
Wheelchairs is the answer! Mary collects breadtags for wheelchairs. Approximtely 200 kg’s of breadtags are required for one wheelchair. Mary receives a donation from the recycled breadtags and the funds raised are used to supply a wheelchair to be distributed to a person in need of mobility assistance.
This is no ordinary charity and this is no ordinary lady. The logisitcs and network surrounding collecting the breadtags is a massive operation. It started 5 years ago when Mary was asked at her local church to collect her breadtags for wheelchairs so they could be sent to Durban to provide wheelchairs to the community in KZN. Mary realised the need to have the charity operating in the Western Cape and got involved immediately starting the Western Cape Network. Collection points started at local schools but has now spread to various centres and through word of mouth. Collection points have been set up at the schools, at Longbeach Mall and Noordhoek Farm Village (boxes at all the restaurants and the information offices). Some are posted to mary, some come from Aliwal North and Berkely East and Jeffries Bay.
The breadtags arrive at Mary’s Noordhoek home, where the sorting and cleaning process takes place! Yes Mary sorts the breadtags to make sure there are no breadcrumbs, globules of butter, paperclips or marbles amidst the breadtags (can’t have sharp objects!) and many of the breadtags need washing! The process is labour and time intensive but Mary does it with love – although she could always use help so volunteers are welcome.
The cleaned and sorted breadtags are then stored in black bin bags under cover at Mary’s home until there is sufficient for a collection to take the breadtags to the recycling centre in Randfontein. Now bear in mind that 1 kilogram is approximately 3000 breadtags. 200 kilograms are required for 1 wheelchair. That’s 10 black bags full! That’s a lot of breadtags.
Once the recycled breadtags have been received, Mary gets a donation and she personally manages the requests for wheelchairs, runs a waiting list which works 90% on a first come first served basis. Saying that each recipient has different needs and requirements and distribution depends partly on the physical needs of the recipient as well as availability of the wheelchairs. There are 2 basic types of wheelchairs – one is stainless steel with detachable footplates which helps with transfering the recipient from chair to bed etc. The second type is primarily a mode of transport with a sturdier frame and no detachables but more durable for pushing the recipient around. And then there are children’s chairs – harder to get and more expensive.
The most recent recipient was a Masiphumelele resident who had a grazed foot, which turned gangrenous and his leg was amputated, restricting his mobility. Mary managed to get him a wheelchair but in the recent fire in Masi, his wheelchair was burnt to ashes. Mary had just received another wheelchair for allocation and fortunately for this gentleman his new found freedom was re-instated by Mary’s hardwork and generosity. Another Noordhoek Community success story.
Wheelchair recipients live as far away as Worcestor and Mary works mostly with organisations, like Ocean View Centre for the Disabled and Masiphumelele Senior’s club.
Anita Roddick of the BodyShop once said, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, think of a mosquito!” My guess is that Mary is a good mosquito ’cause she sure is making a difference!
How can you Help?
- Collect breadtags from family, friends, relatives, neighbours, school groups, sports clubs etc etc
- Drop your breadtags at one of the collection boxes at Noordhoek Farm Village (all 4 restaurants and the tourism info office have collection boxes)
- You can also post your breadtags to PO Box 215, Noordhoek 7979
- Volunteer your time to help Mary sort and clean the breadtags.
- Call Mary on 021 789 1831
Mary is working in conjunction with the Polystyrene Packing Council. They heard of Mary’s project and got involved in assisting with the logistics of this project. Bread tags are made from High Impact Polystyrene and have a reasonable recycling market value. Polystyrene is found in more places than just the “peanuts” used for packing and the lightweight foam pieces that cushion new appliances and electronics. It comes in many more shapes and forms, from bread tags to foam egg cartons and from salad boxes to coffee cups, just to name a few. And as a consumer of Polystyrene products, you are an integral part of the PSPC’s awareness efforts. In an effort to raise awareness of Polystyrene as a product and its numerous packaging uses, the impact on the environment and the importance of recycling, the raw material suppliers and manufacturers of Polystyrene products have joined forces to form the Polystyrene Packaging Council (PSPC) in South Africa. For more information regarding the Polystyrene Packaging Council, log onto www.polystyrenepackaging.co.za or contact Adri Spangenberg on 012 259 0554 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.