Orange Farm pair find treasure in trash

Written by Kgaogelo Letsebe

Phumudzo Muthanyi (29) and Mbali Mokgosi (31) from Orange Farm, south of Johannesburg, successfully turn junk into high-end fashion.Phumudzo Muthanyi and Mbali Mokgosi of MicGalaw carrying the handbags they created from recycled materials.

The duo’s company, MicGalaw, uses discarded plastic from rubbish dumps and landfills to create bags, accessories, home crafts and furniture.

Recycling is the process of collecting trash and turning it into new products.

Muthanyi says they were inspired to recycle plastic after seeing how many discarded bottles and other pieces of plastic were strewn across their township – turning what could be a pretty space into a polluted one.

“It took us about three years to learn the art of working with plastic. Our big break came when we won a pitching competition prize of R12 500 in 2018 during Global Entrepreneurship Week. We were able to purchase our first heavy-duty industrial sewing machine, equipment and materials.”

In 2019, the women produced their first collection, consisting of five stylish bags made from recycled plastic.

Since then, they have made a name for themselves, with the MicGalaw brand becoming known for its eye-catching designs. All their products are made from recycled materials and are affordable – with most ranging from R50 to R350 an item.

The waste collected by MicGalaw is washed and separated.  The recycled plastic is then shredded and melted to become a leather-like fabric. This is followed by cutting the material according to a pattern and the final product is created.

MicGalaw says it managed to recycle over 50 000 tons of plastic between 2019 and 2020 that were smothering Johannesburg, Mogale City and the surrounding areas.

MicGalaw has also created income opportunities for young people through its Clean Up and Popa initiative, in which participating youngsters collect plastic for a set fee.

The company has made gifts for many corporates – including laptop backpacks – and hopes to secure more of these orders. “We would like to grow our business from a micro-business to a small developing business and create employment for more young designers from Orange Farm and Mogale City,” says Muthanyi.

For more information on MicGalaw, call 078 220 5840 or go to Facebook: @MicGalaw

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