As thousands battle on with the clear-up operation after disastrous floods hit large swaths of the country earlier this month, a group of Dresden-based volunteers has been gathering unused sandbags with the idea of transforming them into something useful.
The Alles Jute initiative, a play on East German dialect for Alles Gute or “all the best,” said on Friday that it had begun recycling sandbags found scattered around the city into shopping bags to be sold to raise money for victims of the flood.
“We've got 150 advance orders already,” said a spokesman for the initiative identified only as Ben, who added that he had received inquiries from interested buyers as far afield as Duisburg, Hamburg and Bremen.
Volunteers have already collected and washed 350 unused sandbags and are still searching for more. The group said they are only using bags which hadn't come into contact with the filthy flood water.
The Alles Jute bags will be available to buy online from as early as next week for the symbolic price of €8.76 – representing the 8.76 metres the River Elbe reached when flood waters peaked in Dresden in the first week of June.
The group said they would be donating the majority of the proceeds from the bags to small, private cultural associations in the city whose premises were badly damaged by the flooding.
But even if demand takes off, the volunteers said they will only make a limited amount of the bags. “We'll stop when we reach 876, at the latest,” said spokesman Ben.