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In the Trashy Bags workshop a dozen tailors and seamstresses sit at manual sewing machines stitching together old plastic sachets. In west Africa tap water is not fit to drink so millions of half-litre "pure water" sachets costing only the equivalent of 2p are discarded by thirsty consumers every day. A storage room overflows with more than three million sachets that have been collected and cleaned ready for recycling...
Local people arrive at the Trashy Bags workshop carrying sacks stuffed with thousands of the sachets on their heads. They exchange 1,000 sachets for £2 – good money in a country where the average person earns only £254 a year.
"I collect sachets because I am jobless and this gives me money," said Hadiza Ishmael, a 55-year-old grandmother who had just arrived with 4,000 sachets. "It also makes the place look nicer."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.