Wholesome SA
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We’re spotlighting some of the people and places building the path to a more wholesome SA through all kinds of upcycling initiatives. Thanks to their choice to give goods multiple new chapters, they’re making South Africa a better part of the planet to be.


South Africa (30 July, 2023) — The path to a more wholesome SA that’s cleaner and considerate of the environment is being paved every day. On the path are a lot of initiatives and South Africans making them possible; from people who recycle like it’s a sport to organisations that have made creativity their secret weapon.

Part of a wholesome SA’s future means making certain mindsets second nature; including supporting sustainable stances and upcycling finesse.

To spark some inspiration toward how impactful upcycling can be, we’ve collected a few people and places who are upcycling their way to a more wholesome SA we’d love to see.

First, What is Upcycling?

Where recycling means being able to use a product or item multiple times over, upcycling means giving a product that might traditionally be seen for single-use (or use that will wear down) again in a new form. Think of it as shapeshifting or recreating something for another purpose, like plastic bags that become long-lasting fashion items, waste that becomes school shoes or even eWaste (electronic waste) that becomes a sculpture.

Meet the People and Places Upcycling Their Way to a More Wholesome SA:


Upcycle cleans up corporate waste by turning ‘garbage’ into all kinds of creative gifts, from notebooks to plant hangers, jewellery and toys. Their initiative helps glass, plastic, paper and cardboard become a plethora of new items and often you’d never even know your new vase lived an entire life before. They also empower community crafters who support themselves by making the products you’ll see in the Zero Waste Store.


Singakwenza helps create sustainable toys that are upcycled mostly from packaging that’s usually tossed aside. Bread bags turn to skipping ropes and plastic lids become educational games.

The Litterboom Project

The Litterboom Project is an established waste reclamation innovation that started their own Innovation Hub in 2022. They also have a Wastepreneur programme where plastic gets a new purpose and people get the opportunity to earn in the process.


When it comes to empowering women through eco-activism, GoDiva are your queens. Their sanitary products are reusable, sustainable and made from upcycled cloth masks!

You Made This 

YMT doubles as an upcycling initiative and a dose of art activism raising environmental awareness. These artists tackle a waste problem most of us don’t always have front of mind—Ewaste. They turn tossed electronics into artistic sculptures, and in the process create thought-sparking moments.

Shooz Life 

In an effort to create more school shoes for young students in need, Shooz Life upcycles waste materials to create fully recyclable ‘Shooz’. To date, they’ve made over 5000 pairs already.


Wastecrete gives non-recyclables a chance to enter the construction industry; turning waste into fireproof, damp-resistant bricks. You might remember them from this epic initiative where they created bricks from plastic hangers, fabric cut-offs and cardboard.


Re.Bag.Re.Use creates carry bags (and other accessories) that are crocheted from plastic. The upcycling of these bread bags, fruit and veggie packs as well as black plastic bags has created income opportunities for women in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The Up-cycled Cloth Collective

The UCC is a community of creative upcycled who will give anyone keen to get into upcycled loads of inspiration. Started by South African-based Melanie Brummer, the community has spread all over the world.

Sources: GTG
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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