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Isatou Ceesay

Isatou Ceesay standing at a waste dump


#BIPOC Voices #Empowering Women #Figures in Sustainability #recycling #zero waste


Alidia Vane

Isatou Ceesay is a Gambian environmental activist and entrepreneur who has earned the nickname “the Queen of Recycling.” Ceesay grew up on a farm in the small village of N’jau, Gambia. At an early age, Ceesay was forced to drop out of school, so she began work making and selling toys. With the money she earned, she was able to afford to attend the Gambia Technical Institute. Since then, Ceesay has worked for the U.S. Peace Corps, the Swedish organization Future in Our Hands, and a variety of other development organizations.

In 1998, Ceesay launched her recycling project, One Plastic Bag. Through this movement, she teaches Gambian women how to make purses from recycled plastic bags. This initiative provides women with careers, mentorship, and a source of income while also diverting plastic bags from landfills. Ceesay also founded Women’s Initiative Gambia, which helps to amplify the voices and increase the leadership skills of rural Gambian women.

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