By Sizakele nduli
Phumudzo Muthanyi and Mbali Zukani’s business of making eco-friendly fashion and arts using different types of plastics started when they saw how much plastic pollution was taking over their township in Orange Farm outside Johannesburg. Muthanyi and Zukani, who have a background in fashion design, established MicGalaw in 2018. But it was not until a year ago that they started selling their products after three years of diligent efforts to successfully refine and perfect this process. “We manufacture bags, accessories… and furniture from recyclable materials. Mainly we focus on four different types of plastics such as LDPE, HDPE, and PET, which are considered a safer option for food and drink use, but unfortunately, it’s quite difficult to be recycled,” Muthanyi told Vutivi News.
The co-founders participated in a competition during the Global Entrepreneurship Week in 2018, organised by NPO Rhiza Babuyile together with Netherlands and Experian. They presented a two-minute pitch for a chance to win prize money. With only 20 winners, they emerged victorious and received R12500. Muthanyi said they used the money to invest in their first industrial sewing machine, essential tools, and materials. “The brand’s vision extends across Gauteng, Cape Town, and Durban and targets young individuals from 17 to 35 years of age who have the desire for sustainable fashion and arts,” Muthanyi said. “We are introducing a new South African street style, artistic and eco-friendly fashion brand for young people…, the middle and upper working class,” Muthanyi added.
Their products are all made from recycled materials and because of that, they are affordable – ranging from R50 to R350. Muthanyi took Vutivi News through the process of recycling. “It starts from collecting all different plastics from our hotspots, then the plastics undergo the washing and drying process, then we shred and melt the plastics together to create patterns for different bags and cut them from our sheet fused with other fabrics and the sewing process begins, then you get the final product.”
The co-founders are hopeful that by the end of this year, their target of using 16,000 tons of single-used plastics would be achieved. “We have great help from organisations like CSIR… in Pretoria, Silver Rainbows and L’Occitane donating their plastic waste to us on a regular basis. We will be able to upcycle many more tons like we anticipated,” Muthanyi added. Muthanyi and Zukani currently employ 16 talented young individuals on a part-time basis. Their ultimate goal is to provide permanent employment for these individuals when they secure additional funding. They are now based in Krugersdorp and sell their products on social media and via WhatsApp on 078-220-5840. They moved from Orange Farm because of electricity issues