Waste management is one of Ghana’s biggest problems. This issue, however, is more alarming in the country’s capital, Accra, which generates about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste a day.
In 2012, the World Bank estimated that Ghana’s economy was losing GHC420 million each year, equivalent to 1.6% of its GDP, due to poor sanitation. The study revealed that these costs come from the annual premature death of 19,000 Ghanaians, including the passing of 5,100 children under the age of 5, nearly 90% of which is directly attributable to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene.
While this problem is far from ever being solved, Essilfie Banton, a Ghanaian visual artist is contributing to the eradication of waste in the country through the power of art.
“I am a creative person who is more concerned about solving problems in a unique way. I try to study the existing solutions to a problem and characterize it with different concepts in solving problems to make it look new and interesting for sustainable development,” he says.
“Waste has been one of the major challenges in Ghana, so much money goes into the production of plastic and after that, we send them into trash cans, burn the non-biodegradable solid waste or we leave them in the environment to make the environment dirty which later causes diseases. After this, we turn around and complain of poverty.”
Known as the “Trash Artist”, Essilfie says he was worried about how trash was not managed properly in Ghana and, therefore, decided to place value on trash, by becoming an artist who will turn trash into beautiful products.
“I decided to be the artist who is turning trash into treasure to entertain, heal people in a form of therapy, and recycling to save the Earth by bringing together all that has been destroyed by mankind to create a beautiful, healthy, organic and safe Earth.”
Essilfie says his trash art is mainly focused on optical illusion, as it gives the viewer a different interpretation of life from a different angle.
“At a closer look, one would see the works as a confusing combination of trash but when one looks at the work from a distance, one sees a beautiful work of art which fulfils the concept of aesthetics.”
Most of the art pieces he makes with the trash he gathers are of African leaders and prominent African landscapes.
Essilfie, however, believes that the earth can be saved from pollution by the conscious contribution of every single person in the world.
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