Get to know "StartUpcycling"

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START UPCYCLING The educational tool to start off ideas 1

The project “StartUpcycling” is realized with the financial support of the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.


“StartUpcycling� is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Share Alike 4.0 International License 3



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about the startupcycling project

the startupcycling NGO partnership


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startupcycling worldwide!




The StartUpcycling youth project offers a global platform through which entrepreneurial opportunities linked to upcycling are made available to young people. In this way, StartUpcycling wants to empower youth through the provision of educational materials and training activities that raise awareness of the global issues relating to waste and enable them to become agents of innovation and change. The fact that more and more waste is ending up in our environment offers upcycling entrepreneurs the opportunity to simultaneously reduce its negative impact on natural systems and fight youth unemployment.

The international exchanges brought together designers, craftspeople and social workers from four continents to develop educational materials on the subject of upcycling and entrepreneurship. During the three meetings held in Germany, India and South Africa participants exchanged knowledge in the field of waste reduction and upcycling and discussed how young entrepreneurs could be supported in building social green businesses. The project was curated by Starkmacher e.V. within the framework of a programme funded by the European Union.

UPCYCLING In contrast to downcycling or recycling, upcycling is a method of upgrading usable materials by creating sustainable new products that can be sold to generate income. 7



Educational activities Workshops and training sessions were used to inform young people about the opportunities and possibilities of upcycling start-ups and to train them to become entrepreneurs or multipliers in this field of knowledge (for further information please see Chapter 4 of the eBook). eCourse The StartUpcycling eCourse provides participants with the knowhow necessary to develop an upcycling start-up. The online course includes theoretical background information about waste, insights into the professional world of upcycling and a step-bystep approach to the development of an upcycling start-up. eBook The eBook provides a summary of the educational content developed by the project and provides assistance and inspiration for the educational work in the field of young entrepreneurship using waste. 9



Alongside the StartUpcycling project a network continues to grow that provides a space for people to connect through the idea of working with waste. Knowledge about waste materials, upcycling and design, start-up and entrepreneurial education as well as more supporting educational approaches are continuously shared through this network. As a result of the project outcomes and the call to action provided by StartUpcycling, the partners have reached many young people who will continue to benefit from the project in the long term. By further expanding the StartUpcycling network we are also able to provide more young people with the opportunity to use cross-border mobility for volunteer programmes and internships. 11

We empower young people to start upcycling and make them aware of the fact that waste has value. The core of StartUpcycling is a global network of 7 NGOs. The experiences of these member NGOs were used to develop a list of best practices that could be leveraged to build up holistic methodological approaches to working together with young people and both educate and empower them. FIELDS OF COMPETENCIES OF THE PARTNERS: - Online education and the development of tools for online and distance learning. - Promotion, training and volunteering for young people in the field of social green businesses. - Education to raise awareness of sustainability through lectures and workshops, events and other activities.





“Within a friendly and highly trained environment we promote innovation in education and training in Greece, Europe and the world. Our joint and equal effort and cooperation is our strength.�

We develop online tools and education-related solutions for online and distance learning for vulnerable target groups at local, national and international levels. Additionally, we promote business opportunities for enterprises aiming to enhance their competitive activity.


workshop T-shirt upcycling, Lesvos




“Fundacja Laja creates space for culture and creativity.”

We promote the idea of pro-social activities, volunteering and education through lectures and workshops in the field of multicultural education, ecology and human rights. Located in Cieszyn, on the border with the Czech Republic, we organise events, conferences, workshops, meetings and training sessions. We also run a tearoom and a Junior Club in Cieszyn’s Castle and we organise an annual multicultural tea-festival, “Svatek caje”.


workshop Åšmieciosztuka WASTEART, Cieszyn




“We are sure that inside every person there is a treasure – something highly valuable – and that’s what we want to make visible to both the person and to society.”

We empower disadvantaged youth and promote their key competencies. We train youth workers and educators in sustainability issues and focus on social youth businesses.


workshop Job orientation through upcycling, Berlin




“We are working to help our city, Rio de Janeiro, to become a sustainable city.�

We are engaged in educational projects for vulnerable target groups. We give courses and modules in recycling, ecological design, fashion and sewing, cultural and artistic events and sustainable gardening.


Sewing workshop, Rio de Janeiro




“We are dedicated to changing the harmful habits that affect the way we make, dispose of and think about waste.�

We educate the leaders of tomorrow to reduce waste and recycle more. Using games and fun educational tools, we inspire future generations to be part of the solution and not the pollution!


Tetra Pack workshop, Auroville, Upcycling Studio Auroville




“Bringing ideas to life, making room for people, triggering changes.�

We produce and promote various projects in different areas: video production and photography; set-up and furnishing of urban and natural spaces; installations and workshops; development and realisation of cultural projects, festivals and artistic exhibitions. For all of our projects and types of work, creativity functions as the generating element for social and cultural innovation.


workshop Learning from materials, Udine



South Africa

“We are an award-winning public benefit organisation focused on developing the capacities of youth to transform under-resourced neighbourhoods to work towards food security, climate adaption, social cohesion and prosperity.� Seed offers youth training in enterprise, education and employment within the green economy. The activities include outdoor classrooms in township schools, holiday programmes, training of teachers, accredited permaculture training with township youth, as well as a food programme to engage local activists and home gardeners to reconnect communities and grow household resilience. 26

workshop Introduction to Recycling and Upcycling, Cape Town





The StartUpcycling collaboration between the international project partners generated a dialogue on how to provide educational activities around waste on a global level. The mobility exchanges in Berlin, Auroville (India) and Cape Town gave valuable insights into the theory and practice of waste reduction on different continents and in different contexts. They also clearly illustrated that upcycling can be used as a tool to raise awareness of the potential value of waste.


meeting 1 Getting to know one another in Germany’s capital, Berlin 11.02.2017 – 19.02.2017 The first meeting held in Berlin was dedicated to an exchange of knowledge between the seven international associations on their different perspectives of the topics of waste avoidance and upcycling. While the target groups and the environment in which each NGO is working are quite different, the challenges, values and goals of each of the partners are similar. The partners from four continents first exchanged views on the respective national manifestations and characteristics of the global issue of environmental damage. They discussed the following questions: Is there environmental awareness in their country? Is the processing of waste carried out? How much waste is produced and how much is recycled? This exchange was complemented by visi-

ts to companies, platforms or educational institutions based in Berlin that are either raising young people’s awareness of waste as a resource or have developed exemplary approaches in educational work. An excursion was also undertaken to a recycling centre of the Berliner waste supply service, which, which had to deal with 1,247.3 megatonnes of waste in 2017 alone. The “Trial and Error” collective, based in Berlin’s Neukölln district, took the StartUpcycling group on an “awareness walk” through the neighbourhood and collected waste from the street to show how sustainable awareness work is done with youth in their neighbourhood. Simone from “Materialmafia” demonstrated how much passion and perseverance it takes to inspire many people and to live from creations produced by upcycling. 30




meeting 2 Working on the eCourse in the Indian town of Auroville 01.09.2017 – 09.09.2017 The second meeting held in Auroville, India, offered participants the opportunity to see a similarly high diversity of initiatives as was witnessed in Berlin as well as new methods and approaches to educational work. The different business models in use, but also the structure of the settlement of Auroville itself, inspired the StartUpcycling participants. Auroville is not far from its goal of completely recycling all of the waste generated in the settlement. The inhabitants are almost exclusively supplied by local farmers. The garbage produced by Aurovillians and visitors to the town is separated and sorted by hand by the “Eco Service”. It can be sold to garbage collectors and is thus efficiently processed. There is also a “swap shop” in Auroville and an almost package-less supermarket, both of which contribute to the

town’s approach to waste management. These recycling and environmental protection activities are proving successful despite the fact that Auroville has been growing in size for several decades. The model character of Auroville played an important role in the work undertaken on the eCourse. Local initiatives and local actors inspired the group with their authentic upcycling work. For example, the Eco Femme initiative from Auroville has built an international community, the members of which are purchasing and sharing ideas and sustainable products for menstruation utilities online. In Auroville itself the idea of upcycling is very present. Adjacent to the spiritual centre of the settlement, upcycled and artisanal products are displayed and sold with the shared view that waste can be valuable. 34




meeting 3 Last meeting and work session near Cape Town, South Africa 16.03.2018 – 24.03.2018 The final meeting, held near Cape Town, offered participants the opportunity to get to know exemplary Upcycling start-ups run by young entrepreneurs. The StartUpcycling project organised two events with the Hive workspace in Muizenberg and thus gathered together many people who are active or interested in the topics of waste and upcycling. Upcyclers from Muizenberg and other suburbs of Cape Town exhibited and sold their goods and displayed their upcycling techniques together with the designers from StartUpcycling. Events including a clothes swap, a children’s programme and a graffiti spray with StartUpcycling participants offered numerous opportunities for exchange with and between the international guests. Particularly impressive were the examples set by young people who had used upcycling as a successful means of coming from the street - “from trash to cash”. In the “Upcycling Jam”, an evening long

workshop that employed a playful method of picking materials and objects at random to create something new, participants learned new ways in which to become creative with waste. Everyone could bring discarded materials and throw them into a bin. The participants were then challenged to create beautiful and useful upcycled products from those materials in small groups in a limited time. Together with local initiatives such as the Beach Co-op, the StartUpcycling team organised a Beach and Vlei Clean Up in Muizenberg. A particular emphasis was placed on the very small plastic particles that could be found everywhere on the beach which revealed how far advanced the environmental pollution caused by plastic already is. However, the cohesion and strength of the local community’s network allows many people to share an awareness and live more resource-efficiently. 38









from Starkmacher e.V. in Germany

from Puntozero in Italy



from Upcycling Studio Auroville in India

from Fundacja Laja in Poland

Alex from Action Synergy in Greece


1. Which activities did you develop while participating in the StartUpcycling project?

Teresa: We developed entrepreneurial training activities for young refugees in collaboration with Joblinge Berlin. We also organised networking meetings for organisations as well as international youth exchanges in the field of upcycling.

Ok: We gave many upcycling workshops and taught design students in India how to make TetraPak armchairs, a multi purpose mobile phone holder from cartons, or a lampshade from PET bottles. Our highlight every year is the Auroville Trashion Show in collaboration with Alex: WasteLess. During this event the people To give an example, one of our co-worof Auroville exhibit clothes they have dekers, Sofia, developed a collection of key signed themselves and made out of their holders with the shape of lifejackets made own household trash. out of actual refugee lifejackets that were left over on Lesvos Island, one of the hotMariola: spots of the refugee crisis. By selling them We did a series of upcycling workshops the “Proem-aid� rescue team coming from with children while educating more memSpain was supported in their work. bers of our team as trainers in the topic of recycling, upcycling and zero waste topics. As a foundation we started a European 44

Voluntary Service project with a volunteer from Slovakia focusing on upcycling of clothes. We also incorporated the topic of zero waste into both the Earth Day festival and The Tea Festival Święto Herbaty. Matteo: Three workshops were attended by a group of teenagers who, during the following summer, would organise workshops for kids on the topic of upcycling and waste reduction in collaboration with Centro di aggregazione giovanile, Pozzuolo, Udine. In the first workshop participants got insights of rural cultural habits that explain how the practice of upcycling is more an attitude and a statement than a fashion. Examples of innovative and modern solutions, both in the field of design and energy, were explained in the series of workshops.



2. How was upcycling introduced? Was upcycling introduced as a possibility of training for a professional activity, as a leisure time activity or how else? Teresa: We took it as a creative way to start a conversation with people about waste in our surrounding area. In this way upcycling served as a tool through which to raise awareness on waste reduction and was introduced as a business opportunity for unemployed youth.

During our Tea Festival Święto Herbaty we have been promoting upcycling as a lifestyle and a solution for organisers of bigger events, showing that it is possible to upcycle or achieve zero waste on bigger scale.

Alex: As we worked a lot on Lesvos, we aimed to give professional solutions to people who needed them, like refugees. Mariola: Both fields – leisure and educational activities for children. With youth we put emphasis on upcycling as a tool towards sustainable business and sustainable living. 47

3. What was the feedback of the participants? How much interest in upcycling and sustainability did they have? Matteo: The creative approach used was for all of our participants an incentive to use upcycling as a complex tool able to investigate different fields of knowledge, practice and activism.

is a resource, or at least not necessarily waste. Alex: Most of our participants were interested in finding sustainable solutions that respect the earth and can provide them with some source of income.

Teresa: Maybe our participants have not become entrepreneurs, but they are definitely mo- Mariola: tivated to reduce, refuse and reuse waste, As upcycling is only a part of a sustainable and to spread the message. living system, we did reach the idea of zero waste solutions by working with upcycling. Ok: This broader view on sustainability seemed Auroville is a well known place if one se- more interesting for our focus group. arches for the topic of upcycling and sustainability. Designing upcycled products here for a number of years has helped us to explain the value of waste; that it 48



4. What has changed as a result of working with upcycling? Do you go on with upcycling activities or something like this? If yes, what and how do you do it? Ok: We are going to open a shop with 14 upcyclers in Auroville, which means being more visible and also being supported by funding.

Mariola: Yes, we still continue with upcycling themes. However, at the moment Zero Waste tends to take the lead.

Alex: One of our co-workers, Sofia, was inspired to work even more with upcycling in all its forms. She is creating clothes while reusing and promoting upcycling and sustainable living by participating in theatre performances. Matteo: It is pretty difficult to find a result so far... For sure there has been a strong upgrade in consciousness about upcycling and waste reduction. 51 eCourse

StartUpcycling is an international project using upcycling as a tool for increasing environmental awareness, creativity and empowerment of youth. We are developing a global network to develop and exchange educational materials including upcycling workshops, an eCourse and an eBook. Alongside these developments we offer entrepreneurial training to give new perspectives on job creation.