Nov 2023 2nd Edition

Youth Crafting a Green Future Through Grandma’s Lessons

Neo Bodumela


Business is on the rise for 23-year-old recycling and art enthusiast Minenhle Simelane.

Simelane owns Umlazi Arts and Recycling and crochets recycled plastic into mats – a skill that he learnt at the feet of his grandmother.

“My grandmother taught me how to do these mats when she was telling me stories as a child. So, when Mshana Simelane

I grew up I had this thought that many people don’t recycle their plastic items, they just throw them away.

“I thought that there are so many plastic items that I could use, let me just do something that I love which reminds me of my grandmother,” he says.

The crochet crafter says the idea of turning his passion into a full-time business didn’t occur to him until he posted one of his creations on a social media site earlier this year.

“I started posting these mats on Facebook and people were saying how they want it. I was just posting it for myself but that post received more than 2000 shares and more people were interested and I started getting customers all over South Africa,” explained Simelane.

He now faces the challenge of not having enough people to help him meet the demand. He currently has two people working for him, but he also hires temporary staff who help him collect the plastic items.

“The business is growing and I have so many orders.
I have received more than 1000 orders and have had to turn some of them down because I could not complete them,” he said.

Sometimes he has to stop crocheting and go to the dumping site where he collects the plastic items, wash them and make the order, but the demand for his products keeps increasing.

“One order alone can take about four to five hours to complete depending on the size. I wish to have a big factory where I can hire more people to make more ideas come to life and create. I have many more ideas of how to recycle using any waste you can think of, but right now I need machinery to help make production much quicker,” he says.


You can contact Simelane on 082 617 6122

Facebook: Mshana Simelane


Share this page