Living Off Discarded Bottles

Onneetse Gabonthone
Onneetse Gabonthone

SELEBI-PHIKWE: Constantly coming across discarded liquor and beer bottles daily made Onneetse Gabonthone realise he could not only make a living out of those discarded bottles but also help save the environment.

A former BCL employee from Mahalapye, Gabonthone says he lost his job in 2015 after an injury on the backbone.

This forced him to find other means of earning a living and he eventually thought of cutting beverage and liquor bottles to make different types of glasses.

“I cannot do heavy work because of my backbone injury hence I started collecting beverages and liquor bottles in December 2015 to design drinking glasses, wine glasses and small vases for decorations,” he said.  He operates his business from home and is assisted by the mother of his two children. He said that he uses a tiny wire to cut the bottles into the shapes he desires. “First I clamp the bottles then I apply oil where I want to cut and after cutting I use a filler to smoothen the bottles.”


However, he added that the procedure of cutting the bottles is very difficult because he does not have any machines to cut the bottles. According to the 36-year-old who stays in Pimville, one of the locations with many bars, he was inspired by his love for keeping the environment clean and saving people’s lives. “It’s not just the broken bottles that are dangerous but the unbroken ones are an eyesore. They are hazardous to children and anyone because they became breeding places for mosquitoes and also pollute the land,” he said. Gabonthone revealed that people have appreciated his business and are buying his products.

He said he goes from door to door to selling his products and some people buy the glasses to use them for kitchen purposes while some use them as storage and decorating glasses. “Prices start at P10 per glass depending on the weight and length of the glass,” he said. Although, Gabonthone collects discarded bottles in the streets for free he also has some challenges like any other businessman.

He said his greatest challenge is lack of funds to buy machines that cut and smoothens bottles as well as chemicals to wash the bottles. “I sell the bottles with different brands hence I need chemicals that could erase those brand names,” he said, adding that he wants to have his own brand on the bottles. Gabonthone said his plan is to expand his business into a bigger business and reach out to a bigger market across the country.

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