I was that girl who never threw things away. From coins to bottle caps, I collected them all. My brothers teased me a lot, but I couldn’t help being who I was.
As a teenager, I didn’t stop being a collector. I started following my dad to the electrical shop just to find interesting stuff.
One afternoon, a man walked into the shop. He wore dark clothing with a clear apron. The shop owner gave him a bag of empty plastic bottles. I wondered who he was.
On our way home, my dad told me the man collected empty bottles for ‘recycling’. It was the first time I heard that word. I asked my dad what it meant. He said it meant treating waste so it can be used again. He explained that the man sold his bottles to a company in our community. He said he’d help me register and get started, if I wanted. I was so excited that I screamed a big fat yes.
After my dad helped me register, I started. I gathered all the empty tins, cans and plastic bottles in our compound. I found some on the street. I got some from friends, neighbours and relatives. By the end of the month, I had about 30 empties. My dad and I took them to the company. A nice lady counted them and gave me 500 naira.
Word spread around our neighbourhood. People started bringing their empties to me. After a while, I started making more money. I stopped asking my mum for pocket money. Now I help out by buying little things for our home. How cool is that? I never imagined that I would earn a living from doing something I love.
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