Plastic began as a rather benign invention, creating convenience for everyday modern life. Now, in the words of National Geographic, “we are drowning in it.” Plastic waste pollutes our planet in such quantities that it is now considered a crisis. More than 40% of plastic is used only once, and it estimated that the substance could take 450 years to biodegrade, if at all. Since its’ launch in the 1950s, the earth is now filled with 6.9 billion tonnes of plastic waste, 91% of which has never been recycled. UN Environment has tracked that every year 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide. By 2050, it is predicted there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. This trend is setting up human and planetary life for disaster.

Ye Zembil Melse is a collaborative campaign for a plastic-free Ethiopia. We use zembils (woven baskets used in Ethiopia and around the world) as a metaphor for the abundant traditional alternatives to the plastics crisis. Using creative approaches, digital campaigning, policy advocacy, community outreach, and alternative business models, we are collectively campaigning to make Ethiopia plastic-free.