Sunday, June 18, 2006

APE Shop

You would be hard pressed to find an area that recycles more of their garbage than Cairo. The rubbish collectors are called zabaleen and it's a family business. The men and boys (who may go to school for 4 hrs a day, but that's doubtful) go out and collect the garbage from each house. I'm not sure where from exactly since there are no garbage cans at the curb like in the states. The menfolk carry the garbage in something like huge shopping bags balanced on their shoulders which they then deposit in the back of a pick-up truck.

The garbage is taken away and sorted through by the women and probably girls. That used to happen in the homes, but I'm not sure that's true anymore. Whatever can be sold is sold. The friday morning market is infamous. Someone described it as the place to find everything you've thrown away while you've lived in Cairo. I haven't actually been.

Things that get recycled from the garbage include paper and cloth. A project called the Association for the Preservation for the Environment (with the unfortunate acronym of APE) was set up to make use of this material. Some of the girls make recycled paper, rag rugs and bags, and quilts which are then sold.

We finally found someone that we can donate fabric scraps to directly (rather than having it go into the garbage first). I have been busy sorting fabric and scraps in each of my color-separated bins. Don't ask me why, but I seem to work so much better when all the like fabric is together. I hate just having it intermingled. Is that silly or what? So I've been putting fabric scraps I want to keep into little ziplock bags and putting the rest in a donation bag.

Up next are pics from my visit to the APE shop. I've noticed a change in the work that is being sold over the last couple of years. Used to be all the patchwork and applique was very western and traditional. Far too many teddy bears.

But now there are more Egyptian-inspired works, which is fabulous. This is a quilt featuring women's work. Sorry it's sideways. It's right-side-up in Picassa but comes out screwy here.

A woman driving a donkey cart.

A variety of animals. No camel unfortunately.

And this is what I love. The bags woven from scraps.

This is the one I bought. If it were larger I'd use it as my everyday carry around bag, but it's purse-sized. I am soooo not using this as a purse - that would just be frou-frou and impractical. Think it's gonna get turned into a giftbag.

This is the carry around bag I bought after I first moved here. These things are so incredibly sturdy. I use it for groceries, library books and have carted around 20 lb of alabaster.


Fiona said...

Thank you for sharing this, Tonya. That Friday morning market sounds fascinating, and maybe more ecological than the UK where so many things go into landfill sites. I like the idea of the quilts and bags being made from fabric that's been thrown out - seems kind of true to the original ethos of quilting as creating something out of clothing that's no longer serviceable.

joyce said...

Thanks for the glimpse into Egyptian culture. I agree with Fiona that it's a good use of excess fabric. We have so much waste in our culture. We could learn something from them. The problem here is that I doubt that anyone would be willing to do the job. THe closest we have is thrift shops which I heartily applaud and shop at all the time.

Kristin La Flamme said...

I love those woven bags, er cat pillows. The green one on teh top of the middle pile is just my taste. Things like these and the pictures of gorgeous tents you post make me want to visit Cairo so badly.

Finn said...

Morning Ton, love the sorting picture...LOL, you really do win the "too small to use" discussion we were having last fall..LOL.
I'm really into the ziplock bags myself, pretty much allllll sizes..*VBG* They certainly help keep projects sorted out.
I had no idea that Cairo or Egypt was that "into" recycling, but what a great thing. As a lover of needle arts, it totally works for me. Glad that you can pass along what you don't need, and then see it used in such a creative way. Great place for purged fabrics too, I'll bet.

Karen said...

The APE shop photos are interesting. About how much are the items that they sell, for instance, the one of the woman/donkey cart? And just look at that handsome kitty sleeping on his bag. Karen

YankeeQuilter said...

Kitty looks so happy on her bag! I like the fact their work is more representative of their own surroundings.

What did we do before little zip-lock bags!!


Simonetta said...

Hi Tonya,thanks for your story on the Egyptian culture, it is interesting.
The cat that he sleeps is so lovely:))))

Lily said...

They sure do know how to recycle!

LOL too frou-frou. Great idea to use as a gift bag.

I like that sideways picture. The quilt is great showing us women's work on a quilt made by women for presumably other women! We know how hard we work :)

Lois R. said...

Hooray for recycling! I'm glad you figured out how to donate directly.

I love the bags from the APE shop. I'm all for "vegetarian" bags that are as beautiful as they are useful. Do your kitties use the big bag as a scratching pad? I know mine would (in addition to sleeping on it).

Gorgeous photo of Pokey -- again! That is one photogenic kitty!!!

Marcie said...

Facinating stuff you are sharing! My neice made me a bag that looks like those in your photo. It is darling. I will post a pic on my blog and hope it shows up.

Dawn said...

I never can believe all the things I just don't think of in a country like Egypt and daily life! Those are pretty fun quilts and bags!

ForestJane said...

The bottom pic looks so peaceful. What do you do with 20 pounds of alabaster?

The red and pink fluffy looking bag reminds me of a shower cap my best friend's mother used to wear... lol

Are you going to try to make a landscape or watercolor type of quilt with all those scraps of blue?

Shelina said...

I just posted my blog about trash systems and recycling in Ohio, and here you are talking about the same thing. It is interesting to me how different areas conserve differently, and how they do things.