This article was written by Carrie Crozier and originally published in the April 2023 ANZA E-Newsletter (click here to read it). We are grateful to ANZA for sharing and raising awareness about XSProject.
Many ANZA members will recognize the name XSProject – all one word – from our bazaars and coffee morning vendor visits, but I am willing to bet that not many know their incredible story. Retno, manager of XSProject, took the time to explain to us their processes, goals, and origins, so that we can better understand this unique organization. We will also share some ways that ANZA is helping them with their mission, and so can you!
Firstly – XSProject is known to most expats for their high-quality products that are functional and beautiful. You can see their full catalog on their website.
The main material used in these products is recycled plastic waste that has been collected by the trash-picking community in Cirendeu, an open garbage dump in South Jakarta.
Recognizing the serious needs in this extremely vulnerable population, over the years XSProject has expanded their organization around the focus of improving the lives of this community. The community itself is comprised of the adult workers and their families, and includes many children.
The idea started in 2002 in an artist’s studio, when a local artist decided to use trash as her medium as a way to highlight the problems of ‘throwaway consumables’. The name of XSProject actually came from the word excess – too much of everything. Too much waste and too much poverty.
She approached a community of trash picker families to find out what they collect and sell to earn a living. The Project’s early purpose was to help clean up Jakarta by asking the trash pickers to collect empty plastic pouches (i.e. the ones used for detergent, etc.) and then purchasing them to provide the pickers some extra income.
Soon the Project realized there was a huge opportunity for real change – rather than simply providing the families with extra cash, they could uplift the community’s children by providing education and healthcare, aiming to break the generational cycle of thinking that picking trash is their only option in life.
With that lofty goal in mind, XSProject is now organized under two entities: XSProject, their non-profit foundation whose focus is to support the people of Cirendeu; and XSProjek, the business side, which creates employment for people in Cirendeu. This is the arm that manufactures the products we know and also advocates the importance of reducing, reusing and upcycling to the wider community.
To fully realize their current goals, and ensure the sustainability of these initiatives in the future, XSProject has formalized their three lines of care for these vulnerable families: education, health and community.
The work they are doing is phenomenally important and so we highlight further as follows:
They currently support 85 children, ranging from kindergarten through to college. Their goal is to send the children of the community through 12 years of education, and further if desired, to increase their chances of getting employment outside the landfill.
The longevity of this initiative is important to them as well, and they want to ensure that each child in the family gets the same educational opportunities.
Given the conditions the community lives under and the low nutritional value of their diets, their health is very fragile. Typhoid and tuberculosis are common but serious issues in the community.
Under this umbrella, XSProject offers vaccinations and annual health check-ups, provides assistance with chronic illnesses, provides eyeglasses where needed, and dental work. They also have a future-based focus, providing their kindergarten students with vitamins, healthy meals, and anything else that will support their learning experiences.
Finally, they are always looking for ways to be able to help the trash-picker community with anything that they need to make their lives a bit better. Examples of initiatives that fall under this category are: building communal bathrooms; purchasing carts to make collecting trash easier; and providing tarps to waterproof their shelters/homes.
With so many wonderful initiatives underway, ANZA was keen to help! Retno said there are many ways we can contribute – as an organization or individual households:
- Collect and donate your household waste such as empty plastic pouches, hessian coffee sacks, upholstery and other fabric remnants.
- Keep an eye out for billboard materials from the organizations/institutions/companies you frequent.
- Support social activities by donating to the XSEducation Scholarship Program, XSHealth, or XSCommunity.
Following Retno’s advice, ANZA has commissioned bags to be made out of our 2022 80s Ball banners – watch our social media for the announcement so you can bring home a piece of the ball!
XSProject also offers visits to Cirendeu so you can meet the residents, see their living conditions, and tour the workshop where raw materials are stored, sorted, washed, and sewn.
Thank you Retno for this interesting background on your wonderful organization!