Express your love in an upcycled way this Valentine’s Day

“This Valentine’s Day we’d like to encourage consumers to express their love in an eco-friendly way by creating upcycled gifts. Adopting upcycling and making use of waste in a fun and creative can alleviate some of the pressure on our waste disposal infrastructure,” says Leon Grobbelaar, President of the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA).  

Upcycling is different to recycling. Upcycling is the method of reusing waste without destroying it, whereas recycling is a process of breaking down waste products to extract resources to form a new product. “According to the Department of Environmental Affairs’ (DEA) Waste Management Hierarchy1, upcycling is a preferred waste management option and is ranked above recycling. The industrial processes used to extract products from recycled waste are most often associated with the release of industrial emissions and an extensive use of energy. Upcycling is, therefore, the more environmentally friendly option to deal with waste,” says Grobbelaar.

“We’d like to encourage South Africans to instil a culture of upcycling in their homes. If you see a Valentine’s Day gift that you are tempted to buy, use it as inspiration. Embark on a DIY project, using items you already have at home to make the same product. A gift like this shows the recipient that you have invested time and effort in creating a one-of-a-kind item especially for them,” he continues.

Here are a few nifty ideas for creating the perfect upcycled gift that is sure to get your Valentine’s heart beating faster:

“While we find ourselves in the month of love, don’t forget to consider your love for the environment too. You would be amazed at how everyday items, such as plastic and glass beverage bottles can be transformed into the most beautiful Valentine’s Day gift,” Grobbelaar concludes.

To learn other methods of responsible waste management, have a look at IWMSA’s upcoming trainingschedule.

For more information on the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa visit can also follow IWMSA on Facebook ( and Twitter (