In honor of Earth Day, we are excited to share 2021 Professional Fellows Program Alumna Selma Taherti’s story in hopes of inspiring you all to think twice about where your waste goes and what you can do to preserve our home.
Selma was in her third year of studies at École Polytechnique d’Architecture et D’Urbanisme when she took part in a social entrepreneurship program and was struck by inspiration. Elections were going on in Algeria at that time and candidates were vying for the public’s attention using billboards. As Selma saw these giant marketing materials, she wondered, “what will happen to the billboards once elections are over?” Upon further investigation, she discovered that most of them would be burned or thrown in landfills — thus began Selma’s environmental journey.
Knowing that these huge billboards could be used for so much more than just advertising, Selma was inspired to transform a linear ecosystem into a circular one. She entered her social entrepreneurship program with an idea and left with a project — a social environmental startup that upcycles advertisement posters into eco-friendly and everyday use products such as shopping bags, pencil cases, and backpacks called Green Sewing.
While the environmental impact of Green Sewing may be the most easily recognized, the social impact of the organization is equally as important. The heart of the organization is women — made for women and by women. Selma works with housewives and low-income women who have sewing skills to provide them a stable job and sustainable income. These jobs do much more than just put food on the table, they allow the women to become equal partners in their own communities.
While COVID-19 has brought Green Sewing’s operations to somewhat of a standstill, they are still working towards a better future. Selma is working on the organization’s business models and planning for future partnerships with small local companies.
Selma believes that Earth Day is extremely important, but that we should not have to wait for one day a year to raise awareness about the fragility of our environment — we should have Earth Day everyday. Most importantly, Selma wants you to know that if you want to see change in the world, you must be the one to start it. Begin cutting down your plastic use, eating vegetarian one day a week, composting, etc. — use actions to inspire others around you to follow in your footsteps.
Check out Green Sewing’s website and don’t forget: “The Earth is what we all have in common”. — Wendell Berry
The Professional Fellows Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by Legacy International.