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This proudly South African eco-conscious Company is growing in leaps and bounds in its ethos of supporting the environment, skills development and conservation.

Billions of Polyethylene Terephthalate (or PET) bottles are thrown away each year. Yes, people, we are talking plastic. This plastic chokes up our waterways and oceans causing havoc in nature and to the species that inhabit it.

Where did it begin?

Expand a Sign decided that they wanted to do something for South Africa with what they saw around them. The dream was to empower people through skills development, entrepreneurship, education and giving them real hope. Uzwelo was born.

Using waste fabric was one of the driving factors for Uzwelo. Combining this with working with communities in skills development and upliftment, a new eco product was born. Proudly South African bags uniquely designed to be fashionable, durable and cover South African life in its diversity from fashion to shopping, travel to work, sport and school.

Teams of trained ladies from iBhungezi/Philangethemba Trust (Molweni-Valley of 100 hills), the LIV Village, and from iThembalethu (Cato Manor) craft unique eco styled bags to fit a variety of fashion and form for your style of life. This is the Uzwelo Bags team.

Uzwelo ladies

How is it eco friendly?

I understand the concept of reuse and recycle and that this ultimately means there is less strain on the environment. But I wanted to do a little more digging to find out what this all involves.

  • Informal waste collectors, as well as formal recycling businesses across the country, collect PET bottles.
  • The bottles are washed and chopped into chips or flakes at Extrupet.
  • These chips are used in food-grade application to make new bottles made out of rPET (recycled PET bottles) or are sent to Propet.
  • Propet converts the chips into small pellets, which are extruded through their machines to produce fibre.
  • This fibre is used in the manufacture of the nonwoven felt, as well as many other fibres such as duvet and pillow inners, and even knitted into t-shirt fabric.

It turns out that 15 bottles are utilised to make one metre of squared recycled fabric. That’s pretty impressive.

How does it handle?

I eagerly put the gifted eco RPET felt laptop bag to test. It is a rather nifty and hardy piece of crafting.

Made from recycled plastic, the two-tone grey bag is surprisingly fairly soft to the touch. The other benefit is it is really light. Like a bag of feathers light, so it really doesn’t put any strain on your back at all.

I usually carry a laptop, A4 book, business cards, cables, an A5 book (I know…why right?) and have found space for all of this (and more) in the backpack.

The interior has a zip compartment, a lightly padded section for your laptop and space for all your cables. There is an exterior pocket for a water bottle, or business cards or cellphone that comes in pretty handy.

My bag has not shown any indication of wear and tear at all even though it has been manhandled a bit in the last two weeks. The zips are sturdy and don’t give any hassles getting stuck or jammed.

If you are looking to get involved in something special for a Christmas pledge, take a look at their pledge a bag project where you can give an eco friendly bag to a school child in need.

If you want to get in touch, you can mail Uzwelo Bags on info@uzwelo.co.za or call them at +27 31 207 2327. Alternatively, follow them on social media on Facebook or Instagram. In supporting Uzwelo, you support proudly South African and minimise the impact you are having on the environment.

All in all, that is a really feel-good situation.

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