Mary Honeybun collects bread tags for wheelchairsMary Honeybun, founder and organizer of `Bread Tags for Wheelchairs, sorts and sends away over 400kgs of plastic bread tags every six weeks or so.  This translates into an incredible 20 black bin bags of bread tags.  Mary an octogenarian who lives in Noordhoek has been collecting bread tags, those plastic tags used to seal the top of bread bags since 2006 to raise funds to purchase wheelchairs.  In this time she has bought 217 wheelchairs for people in need who can not afford to buy their own.   It is a lot of work she admits, but also very rewarding.  Mary showed me a file with happy photos and the wonderful letters of gratitude she receives from the recipients of the wheelchairs.

Why Bread Tags?

Bread tags are made from High Impact Polystyrene and being dense have a good market value.  According to Mary, the tags are reprocessed to produce seedling and germination trays.  This just goes to show that even the small things we discard without thinking have value.  Mary Honeybun’s co-ordination of the collection and sale of bread tags has removed millions of bits of `plastic’ from the environment to be turned in to re-newed products and has  provided over 217 disabled people from Ocean View in CT to Springbok with wheelchairs.  She has also been able to purchase 2 special walking frames for children with cerebral palsey.  These frames have to be imported from Belguim and cost almost as much as a wheelchair.  The difference they make to the children’s quality of life is priceless.  The Rotary Wheelchair Foundation has helped her to source good quality affordable wheelchairs.

It takes Mary hours every day to sort the tags from other weird items that slip into the collection boxes.  The sorted tags are packed into black bags and stored in her garage to await their delivery to Groplast a polystyrene recycling plant in Randfontein.  She has found a fuel efficient answer in Brett Young of Bay Flora who runs a nursery that receives plants and seedling trays from the Randfontein area.  He ensures that Mary’s bread tags hitch a ride via his existing transport back to Groplast saving her the transport costs.  At Groplast the tags are reprocessed with other polystyrene products to make `ingots’ which are sent to specific companies who make new products (e.g. picture frames, skirtings, cornices, seedling trays, coat hangers) and so the cycle continues.

How we can help?.

Join the network of people who care enough to collect bread tags.  Take your tags to a drop-off point close to you or contact Mary on 021 7891831 for more information about getting the bread tags to her.  TheBread tags recycled for wheelchairs network is so large that Mary doesn’t even know who is collecting for her any more.  About 1 million tags raises enough money to buy a basic wheelchair – so everyone’s help is a huge help.  Photo on RHS:  a box of blue and white bread tags on Mary’s table waiting to be cleaned and weighed to make up 1kg bags.

Drop off places in the Scenic South:

TEARS Charity Shop on Recreation Road, Fish Hoek, collection boxes at Noordhoek Farm Village and apparently at the Standard Bank.  If you have kids at school find out if your school is one of the many that collect bread tags for wheelchairs.  According to Mary, Bergvliet High is the top tag collector, but Kenridge and Fairmont also do a great job sending her tens of thousands of tags. Fish Hoek High also send her tags.   You can also post your bread tags to PO Box 215, Noordhoek, 7979, South Africa.

Schools you can help too!

As the volume of bread tags increases, so does Mary’s burden of cleaning and sorting them into 1kg bags.   Come on schools – surely this is a project you could provide support for.  Scholars who need to do some reflective thinking in detention can sort bread tags and  feel good about making a positive contribution.  Classes could compete with each other in a Tag o War or with other schools to see which can collect and sort the most bread tags.  Whatever you do, don’t ditch them. Get in on a class act and send us photos of your achievements.

KimK