Transforming Waste into Wonder: Crafting a Sustainable Future

Transforming Waste into Wonder: Crafting a Sustainable Future
Brenda Scheepers, Founder of YEM-B

Every June 24th, Upcycling Day celebrates the innovative process of transforming old items into something new and valuable, reducing waste and promoting sustainability. Upcycling, the art of repurposing recyclable materials, breathes new life into discarded items, turning them into unique, functional products.

In support of Upcycling Day, YEM-B (Your End, My Beginning) encourages everyone to join the movement of repurposing recyclable materials. YEM-B is a social entrepreneurship company dedicated to empowering local crafters with skills in beadwork, sewing, leatherwork, crocheting, and business. The goal is for these crafters to independently run their own craft businesses, becoming suppliers to YEM-B and other companies. These talented crafters creatively transform post-industrial textile waste into bags, clothing, toys, décor, and jewellery.

“In just three months our team of twelve talented crafters upcycled over fifty kilograms of waste into more than forty unique product designs, selling over three hundred and sixty items at the recent SARCDA Exhibition and KIES Fair,” says Brenda Scheepers, Founder of YEM-B.

The majority of waste upcycled by YEM-B artisans includes yarn from carpet manufacturing companies. “Our cotton canvas is made from 50% recycled material and 50% locally grown cotton,” explains Scheepers. “Additionally, the linings used in our bags are made from 50% recycled fabric.”

Upcycling is unique because it uses waste in its existing form to create something new. The benefits of upcycling include giving raw materials a second life without significant recycling costs and fulfilling current market needs with innovative products.

“I am incredibly proud of our YEM-B crafters for their passion, creativity and talent. The interest in their beautiful, handmade products is both heartwarming and exciting. We have received orders from various shops across South Africa, as well as international orders from New York, Botswana and the Netherlands,” says Scheepers.

Scheepers is passionate about educating consumers on responsible buying practices and the impact of their choices on the industry. Her slogan, “Care what you Wear,” emphasises the importance of mindful consumption.

Supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs not only creates jobs but also stimulates the local economy. “I believe crafters are an enormous source of inspiration, and it is time we recognise and support them. I am confident that we will see a surge of new, innovative and fresh designs emerging from Africa in the craft industry,” concludes Scheepers.

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