Pollution annoys many people but there are only a few who do something about it. Zymal Umer, a 10-year old girl from Sargodha, is one of those few people who aim to help the environment through their work.
What made her think about the environment at such an early age? There are many factors including carelessness of people who throw plastic bags everywhere without thinking the harm they cause to the environment, lack of management of waste material, plastic bags, and metal dumped everywhere in the city and much more.
This is what Zymel had to say about it,
This is a situation you can find across all of Pakistan – these bags are not biodegradable and people carelessly discard them. They don’t really think about recycling.
Pollution in Sargodha
Lack of Landfill sites isn’t limited to Sargodha only. Pakistan generates 20 million tonnes of waste every year and only half of this is collected by the government, rest of it is dumped in cities. This figure isn’t decreasing by any means, it sees a growth of 2.4% every year.
Most common methods of disposal of waste aren’t helping the environment much either. People dispose of the waste by either burring it or dumping it.
Zymel is the founder of Zeebags, a start-up through which she aims to reduce the pollution problem and increase awareness among people.
She has been labeled as Pakistan’s youngest social entrepreneur. Zymel collects the old newspapers from trash and turns them into beautifully designed gift bags. She then sells these bags and distributes most of the profit among charities. She has helped charities in her city as well as SOS children’s village, a foundation which helps the orphans all over Pakistan, through the profits of her start-up.
She also has got the support of her family and friends. Zymel says, “My father and grandfather pay for my raw materials and if they didn’t help me, it would be very hard to keep my project going.”
Telling about how she learned to make these bags and how she manages the work, she explained; “I learned to make the bags by watching YouTube.
It is hard to balance my schoolwork with running Zeebags, so I make them at the weekend or during the holidays with my cousins.
Within just three years, sales of her product have gone from little to hundreds, making 4000 to 5000 dollars in the way.
Awards and Recognition
Zymel has been recognized countrywide as well as in Saudi Arabia and the USA for her work. She has won numerous awards in these countries. The young entrepreneur says,
I was very excited to get some international recognition for my work and proud to get some positive exposure for my country and parents.
There is a general perception that women find it difficult to work in Pakistan. She had her say about the issue,
In Pakistan, it’s thought girls cannot work independently but I haven’t faced any difficulties and my aim is to continue my work.
She recognizes the importance of an online business.
I want to become a businesswoman in the future and expand Zeebags through my website and showcase other people’s products, too.
My biggest ambition is to grow my project not just in Pakistan but also globally.
The entrepreneurs need more recognition for their work and Pakistan needs to promote this culture. Kalsoom Lakhani, the founder of the Invest2Innovate, has her say on this matter,
While we have this enormous potential we need to be always thinking, how we enable that potential and how we continue to not only allow young people to start a business but allow them to grow businesses.
Invest2Innovate helps other start-ups grow by attracting funding for them and promoting them.
While Zymel is doing her part in reducing the pollution problem, Pakistan needs to make policies on a larger scale. They have begun to tackle this issue by making environmental agencies and looking internationally for technical help and donors. But this isn’t a major priority in the government and the work being done is in bits and pieces.
We need more people who think and act like Zymel has done. She isn’t looking to stop, she wishes to change the thinking of people and make them realize how big the environmental problem is
It is important to future generations can live in a clean and safe world,
I want to be able to say I’ve played my part but it’s up to others to do something themselves, too.
She is doing her part, let’s do ours.