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Turning Electronic Waste Into Art

Turning Electronic Waste Into Art

In August 2013 Alex Mativo, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kenya, began to notice that several industries were dumping electronic waste in the area he lived. As a result of the pollutants released when waste was disposed of incorrectly, life expectancy in the area was reduced and health complications were common.

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“I began looking into ways to transform this hazardous waste,” said Alex. These efforts led him to explore one of his talents: art. “Art has always been my way of expressing myself to my peers,” he said. “I found out I could do some things with my abilities.”

Alex founded E-lab, a company that makes artwork and sculptures out of electronic waste. “My artwork seeks to solve the rampant dumping of electronic waste globally and also fosters a culture of safe and responsible electronic waste disposal,” he said. “I therefore turn this hazardous waste into useful works of art with the intention of helping people be more aware of the environment.
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“I founded E-Lab because I believed that of all the unchangeable things in the world, our biological nature requires clean air, clean water, clean soil, clean energy,” said Alex. “Protecting the planet should be our highest priority or else we sicken and die.”

Alex says that E-Lab has helped to rethink the way products are created in developing countries. To reach this goal, they worked with artists to incorporate an ‘African heritage’ into the products.

“Each item has a unique trademark directly from its maker. All the products are crafted in social projects in communities where high concentrations of toxins from electronic waste have devastating health effects,” said Alex. “The projects are designed to empower local communities and create employment opportunities. E-Lab enhances collaboration among African creatives and provides sustainable livelihoods in affected communities while also addressing waste streams and development challenges.”
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Over the last year “E-­Lab has had a tremendous impact,” said Alex. The company has grown from a start-­up to being fully operational within one year, mopping up 2000 tons of electronic waste from Kenyan households, dumpsites and industries in the process.

On 24 June 24 the Queen of England presented Alex with the Young Leaders Award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace. In the ceremony, Alex and others under the age of 30 were recognized for taking steps towards transforming their communities.

The Queen’s Young Leaders program discovers, celebrates and supports exceptional young people (aged 18 – 29) from across the British Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. In 2015 a search was launched to find exceptional young people to receive the first ever Queen’s Young Leaders Awards. Winners of this prestigious Award received a unique package of training, mentoring and networking.
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Alex Mativo’s efforts to use his talents to build communities in Africa is a powerful example of magnifying the talents we are blessed with.

The Gospel Principles manual instructs us that “the Lord is pleased when we use our talents wisely. He will bless us if we use our talents to benefit other people and to build up His kingdom here on earth. Some of the blessings we gain are joy and love from serving our brothers and sisters here on earth.”