Rehash Trash was a Green Gecko social enterprise that made stylish stuff from roadside rubbish while providing a safe place for disadvantaged women to learn a skill and earn an income.
Unfortunately, like many places around the world, Rehash Trash was hit hard by Covid 19 and with no tourism allowed in Cambodia for 2 years, we made the incredibly hard decision to close the enterprise. All of our staff were given opportunities to create a new business, and all of them now have skills which allowed them to be employed in other areas.
Green Gecko strongly believes that the long-term success of each child is strongly reliant on having long-term solutions for their families. And so, Rehash Trash, borne out of a 'sustainable families' forum' led by the students for their parents, was developed to provide a steady income in a safe and happy environment for their mothers, women who had never had the chance in life to know what it was like to have a steady job that was neither degrading or dangerous. It needed to be easy - as some of the mothers suffer from disabilities, others from addictions and other symptoms of poverty and abuse - and it had to be cheap, with minimal or no raw material costs.
Rehash Trash, was a daily workshop that turned dirty roadside rubbish into beautiful household and fashion items. Sadly, in Siem Reap, the raw material was (and still is) in abundance - discarded plastic bags can be seen everywhere, on the roadside, in gardens, rivers and fields. We hope that we helped to make a difference to our environment through collecting some of that rubbish and up-cycling it into useful and beautiful products.
Every week the mums took turns to run smaller workshops in our shop, giving them the opportunity to teach visitors the crochet skills that they had learned, which was a hugely empowering interaction for them. The women also had the opportunity to see their own products being displayed beautifully and being sold to the public, and they were always so delighted to receive customer feedback and praise for their work. They were involved in every step of the Rehash Trash process, from the collection and washing of plastic bags; to the preparation and crocheting of products; to promoting Rehash Trash in Siem Reap. Each of the women attended a morning workshop 5 days a week, which ended in an engaging Khmer literacy or English language class, where our mothers learned the Khmer alphabet, how to read and write for the very first time, and to master basic spoken English. These skills have been integral in them finding new employment or creating their own small business.