Pioneering a zero-waste lifestyle with Amal Madanat

Pioneering a zero-waste lifestyle with Amal Madanat
(Photos: Jumana Saadeh)
The old saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” holds true to Amal Madanat, taking on the old saying and turning it into her life’s purpose of transforming what may have been trash and giving it new life. Madanat, a retired government employee and environmental activist who resides in the 7th circle has transformed her building’s garage into a recycling hub for all the residents. اضافة اعلان

Promoting herself as a zero-waste lifestyle advocate and environmental activist, she gave us a tour of this recycling friendly garage. Inside, she has placed multiple-colored barrels with tags on them, one saying oil waste, another labeled cartons and papers, and a huge box for glass.

A zero-waste life is within reach for everyone
She strives to create a living example of how one can lead a zero-waste lifestyle and inspire / encourage others to participate in waste sorting. Through her simple actions, she leads by example, showing her neighbors and other neighbors that a zero-waste life is within reach for everyone.

“In the beginning, it was a bit hard to get them engaged, but after a while and with the help of the building guard, almost all the neighbors started to voluntarily sort their waste” says Amal, 60 years old in a report that was made from Amman for BBC Arabic.

Emerged to fill the void
In the absence of a government-led nationwide recycling program, several companies, non-profit initiatives, and individuals have emerged to fill the void.

For glass waste, Madanat collaborates with Khaled Shorman, who owns an eco-village where he builds mud houses and incorporates recycled glass into his designs. He personally collects the glass from various locations and visits her garage every two weeks to pick up the accumulated glass.

An old method takes new life
Shorman says “Our project is based on the idea of natural building, which means building with materials found in your surroundings. Back in Jordan, people used to build their houses with stone and mud. Today, I build with stone, mud, and glass because glass is an excellent material for construction, and it helps in reducing the waste instead of throwing it away.”

Oil waste equals money
For the oil waste, all the building residents, who now seem to be excited and cooperative, pour their oil waste into one barrel. Once the barrel is full, Madanat contacts a company that buys oil waste. The company weighs the oil waste and pays for it.

She explains that this extra income has provided the building's guard with additional earnings, as he has now taken the waste management tasks as an extra source of income for him.

Amal says: “Only organic waste is a bit hard to gather collectively. She continues: “I manage my own organic waste in my house by collecting food scraps in a compost bin, which I later give to Walid Al-Nabulsi.” Nabulsi owns “Organica” an initiative that transforms food waste into organic compost, he and Amal have been trading waste for organic fertilizer for years.

An app that changed the game
Mdanat explains, that she always explores different ways to improve her zero waste efforts, and one day she came across an app that she thought back then that it would change the game. “Green Jo” is a Jordanian startup found by Osama Al-Ghwiri the concept relays on the idea of buying sorted waste from people to recycle it later.

They have a mobile application that provide a collection service of the sorted plastic, paper, cardboard, and metal waste, allowing people to earn money based on the amount they recycle. She started working with them to dispose her building waste made from the aforementioned materials.

In an interview with engineer Ghwiri, founder of “Green Jo,” he mentioned that their app was created to empower individuals like Madanat and also the random garbage collectors in the streets who live off selling garbage.

An app that saves them time
The app saves them time by selling their sorted waste on their behalf. “Everyone now has a phone and yes, many garbage collectors have regularly used our mobile application” Al-Ghwiri said.

However, there are some limitations
The process of collecting garbage from the streets is not legal because, according to officials, the moment garbage is dumped in the street containers, it becomes the municipality's property, and the municipality is the only entity responsible for dealing with it.

The executive director of solid waste treatment & management in the greater Amman Municipality, Engineer Firas Obaidat, says that the municipality is working to put a framework in place for these people and legalize their job but under a clear umbrella.

People like Madanat and Ghwiri are in favor of these legalizations as long as it will keep providing a source of income for an extended group of underprivileged individuals and who contributes to the collective recycling efforts.

Although Green Jo was promising in making a real impact on waste management, the whole startup seems to be facing some challenges at the moment. They no longer operate. We tried to contact them but we did not get any response.

Madanat also could not continue her activities with schools after spending the past eight years running a variety of school activities, encouraging children to rethink harmful social attitudes towards garbage for the lack of funding and support.

Currently, she is only active when someone calls her to give a workshop or through her Facebook page called 'Towards Zero Waste,' where she publishes the practices that she would love people to start doing, and educates people about the importance of recycling and the value of items that they merely consider waste.

Low public awarenessShe thinks that despite all of her personal efforts and those of people like her, nothing will really change because of the general low public awareness towards the topic and the government's lateness in taking action.

Meanwhile, Obaidat acknowledges the remarkable efforts of individuals like Madanat. However, he agrees that without implementing stringent laws, these efforts may not yield the desired impact. He declared that by the year 2024, a national strategy will be implemented and the municipality plans to introduce regulations that mandate sorted waste separation from the source.

Only 7 percent is actually recycled
At the moment, only 7 percent is recycled from the 3 million tonnes of municipal waste produced annually in Jordan. However, people like Madanat, who advocate for a zero-waste lifestyle, believe that living a zero-waste lifestyle extends beyond just recycling.

According to her, it's not only recycling that we should focus on; she believes that we should try our best to reduce waste from the start, even with items that are eventually destined for recycling. It is to reach a point where you as an individual produce the lowest possible -almost zero- waste. 

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