Building Resilience through Waste Diversion and Reduction


Alison Kentish (Caribbean 360) shared an interview of sustainability rebel Laurah John by Inter Press Service (IPS). Laurah John speaks about her project, Jua Kali, which aims to face climate resilience issues in St Lucia.

Jua Kali is a social enterprise tackling waste management and helping to reduce reliance on St Lucia’s only landfill, which will reach the end of its lifespan in 2023. The company, with its slogan ‘Trashing the Idea of Waste,’ hosts waste collection drives through pop up depots that encourage residents to bring in glass, plastic and tin cans in exchange for supermarket shopping points.

This is happening as St Lucia, like other small island states, faces climate resilience issues with freshwater quality and deterioration in marine and coastal ecosystems. Jua Kali is the brainchild of Laurah John. She talks to IPS about why she established Jua Kali and the challenges that she has faced on the project.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Tell me about your background.

Laurah John (LJ): I am a purpose driven, creative rebel and sustainability change agent or at the very least I try to embody those traits through my work with Jua Kali Ltd. – a profit-for-purpose, social enterprise that seeks to provide innovative and sustainable resource recovery solutions to address waste management issues in Small Island Developing States through strategic partnerships.

Before Jua Kali, I was a Social Development Practitioner/Short-term Consultant for the World Bank and Caribbean Local Economic Development project. I was also employed with the Ministry of Social Transformation.

IPS: What led you to establish Jua Kali Ltd.?

LJ: In 2012, I completed a Master’s in Urban Studies from the Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. My master’s thesis, “Wasted Lives: Determining the Feasibility of Establishing a Test Case Resource Recovery Programme in the Urban Poor Community of Faux-a-Chaud, Saint Lucia” sought to explore Resource Recovery as a tool for alleviating urban poverty, enhancing environmental sustainability and bettering communities. This research formed the basis of a business idea that led me and an eight person team to win the 8th [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] UNESCO Youth Forum Startup Weekend in 2013 and led to the creation of Jua Kali Ltd.  in August 2014.

IPS: Tell me about your slogan, ‘Trashing the Idea of Waste’.

LJ: We acknowledge waste as a design flaw in how we built our societies and do not see it as acceptable. We are challenging the public to re-think the concept of waste and question consumption patterns and how that contributes to the problem. We are empowering consumers to recognise that they have the right to leverage (their dollar) and demand that producers create better quality products that address the end-of-life reality of their goods.
Producers take limited resources to create goods that are bought then thrown out. If we no longer believe that waste is acceptable, it means that this product, once utilised, needs to feed into some other process for continuity – closing the loop! [. . .]

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