The Reshape initiative: Developing skills and recycling plastic for a good cause

A 7-day workshop that tackles the problem of unemployment and pollution in one fell swoop.

The Reshape workshop is a 1-week collaboration that took place during Design Indaba Conference 2017 in Woodstock, Cape Town. Copenhagen-based jewellery designer Mette Saabye teamed up with Mads Bille Block from Beth Uriel (House of Light), a local community upliftment organisation for previously disadvantaged young men, to provide them with hands-on education on how to smelt, weld and cut material by hand properly and safely.

Beth Uriel puts focus on uplifting young men, who come from dysfunctional backgrounds or have had too few opportunities in life, to enrich themselves. The focus of the Reshape project was to give them the chance to learn techniques from Saabye on how to recycle plastic into useful products that can later be sold for a profit. 

The idea was to inspire a sense of independence in the participants, provide a supportive learning space and instill an appreciation for their own craftsmanship. For Saabye, it was a learning experience too – she describes the way the young men taught her a thing or two about the way the machinery of the workshop runs and how to fix it.

She emphasises the value and speed of teaching new skills to the attendees of the workshop in a hands-on way, physically demonstrating how to manipulate the molten plastic into shape and letting the guys try for themselves. It was an exchange of learning – all the while discarded plastic was recycled into unique, handmade products for the home.