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youth learning to make a mosaic

Shop assistant to craftsmen

There is nothing more rewarding than watching learners soak up new skills, especially skills they never thought they would ever gain.

Ayanda and Zane have been on a commercial learnership over the last nine months. They joined us for a short three months to gain work readiness experience as part of that program. When asked if they have ever thought of trying to mosaic, they admitted to never in their lives thinking of ever doing to been able to learn to complete a basic mosaic.

As part of a community involvement project, the Upcycle Foundation, helps a local organisation decorate bat habitats. These houses are made from wood and decorated by our leaners with unwanted kitchen and floor tiles been donated to the foundation.

From retail shop assistants to craftsmen, that is the range of experience we offer to learners that join us. Wilma Smit from Uconomy has been working tirelessly with our team to place youth with us and expose them to the unique environment of Upcycle

dog with fabric chew toy

Upcycling your waste

Upcycle is continually innovating new ways to deal with waste materials and at the same time developing potential entrepreneurs’ enterprises with the ideas and products created.

If you look at an item like a simple t-shirt people do not realise how many of them end up being destroyed as a result of things like changes in branding, changes in corporate logos or the end of campaigns set up by large companies. Another source of waste t-shirts is after events where the excess t-shirts cannot be sold or used after the event. Finally, there are also the t-shirts that are printed or branded but have mistakes on them. The majority of these end up going to an end of life solution like being fluffed or turned into tiny shredded bits and sent directly to the landfill.

The dominant reason for the destruction of the branded items and eventual landfilling of the t-shirts is mainly due to the protection of the corporate intellectual property and trademarks.

It is Upcycle’s passion to find solutions to waste issues such as this with the ultimate aim that these items do not result in going to landfill, #landfillavoidance, that drives our innovation. One solution we developed is making various forms of pet toys from the t-shirts. The beauty of this particular solution is that it is a low tech option that has great potential in being scalable to a mass production level. This example of a dog chew would require nothing but a pair of scissors to create.

Take this as an invitation to visit our online store and view not just this item, but to view the many items we at Upcycle have innovated and taught to the local community to produce. All of them are made from waste and created to generate income via our online store but also the physical Upcycle Landfill Avoidance Shop.

While you are online go over to to see how we can work with you to help find solutions to your pains or to get involved in diverting waste from landfills through training and education.


Call for support

Over the past year, the Upcycle Foundation has promoted and supported various projects. The covering books, diaries and folios project has stood out from the rest. This project has shown the potential to become a sustainable startup.

fabric covered books

Aziza, her team and the Foundation have been looking at different ways to de-brand and upcycle all the notebooks, diaries and even office folios they have received. Combining the skills they have learnt along with the knowledge and experience of the foundation team members, we have found a winning formula that has resulted in this popular range in our online store

The “raw” stock has come from many sources and donations by EOH and Barron. As with all items donated, we have removed and de-brand each item as part of our pledge to protect corporate logos and trademarks. 

This project is now starting to grow, and we are looking for a lot more source materials to help Aziza and her community project take it to a new level and become a self-sustainable startup.

If you or your company would like to donate any books, diaries, folios or even fabric offcuts, contact the Foundation on 0828552236 or to discuss how you can get involved.

EOH logo

EOH Donation of fabric

Thank you to EHO for their kind donation banner materials, flags, lanyards and books. We received about 300kg of branded waste. It is fantastic to see companies thinking of better ways to get rid of their unwanted branded items and corporate gifts other than destruction or fluffing and then sending them to the local landfill site.

The donated items will be incorporated into our training program to teach learners how to process branded fabrics. We will also show them how to destroy the branding to prevent it been abused or ending up in the marketplace. In this particular case, the logo’s on the EHO items is their old logo that they do not want to be used.

Covering books in the fabric is a fast and effective way to process an item that can not be used as-is and Upcycle it into a much higher value item. These books will then be for sale in our  Zero Waste store to generate income for the communities that help us with re-branding and ongoing training.

Yoga to success

The one thing I love to talk about is when the students produce a new product from just a verbal description of what a client had in mind. The students are taught design thinking principles as part of the 12-month program enabling them to be able to think out the box and take on challenges that people that support the project put to them. Design thinking is an essential part of empowering and uplifting people to be able to work with just more than one simple product that they have been taught.
What’s become dubbed the “Yoga mat bag project” has grown from a simple single order into what is now the third repeat order making it possible for Bongi and her team to look at turning this into an entirely new product line that can be made by the sewing centre in Swannaville they are also looking into new ways to distributed via various retail shops and online stores. That focus on esoteric or health products
To an outsider it may not seem like much in making a “simple bag” but there are many factors that have to be taken into account such as, as in this case, dealing with mixed fabric types, zip placement, handles, dimensions, the quantity of fabric requires and much more.
This has been made possible through the support of private-sector donations of fabric and also through the sale of these bags which helps funds to be raised for ongoing training and mentorship

Call for help

To all our supporters,

Upcycle Foundation NPC (non profit company) has now been formalized and I would like to introduce you to Winnie, Bongi and May. What makes this so exciting is that Bongi and May have been on the Upcycle journey from 2016. First they were students, then they became entrepreneurs and Upcycle trainers and now they want to share what they have done with Winnie and have become the founding board of directors for the Upcycle Foundation.NPC (ck:2020/547971/08)

It is a no-brainer that we will be looking for support on all levels from money to time.

Our immediate need is time from anyone that can help, in their professional capacity, to put additional polish on what we have started with, namely:-

Brand, look and feel 

Content & Copyright

To chat and discuss any of this I would love to hear from you.My email address is or whatsapp 082 855 2236

We would love your help and assistance and look forward to working with you.Mark Fruhauf082 855 2236