Category: Uncategorized

Kiota School

On 24th September 2021, a few ACT employees visited Kiota School to educate the pupils about textile waste, and all the things that can be done with it. We taught them how to make an easy no-fuss shopping bag from t-shirts. We enjoyed educating them and hearing from the children. They made the session very exciting. To see how the day went, click here. Let us make the #BestOutOfWaste!

ACT Academy in Lagos, Nigeria

In August, our Lagos team hosted the very first ACT Academy. This was a textile recycling workshop for the kids. The exercise aimed to see firsthand the creative side of the children in the age group 3-14 years of age. The activities centered on textile recycling, fashion, and purpose. A total of 20 Children, both boys and girls participated in the exercise, during the 2021 summer break. The children cut off Ankara print fabrics that were used to refurbish accessories they see all around them; in their homes, outings, etc. The exercises encouraged the children to tap into their creativity while teaching them that textile too can be recycled, upcycled, and has endless possibilities even at that stage (a small cut-off or piece that might be disposed of as rags). The end products from the exercise ranged from; bangles, earrings, headbands, and an overall sense of pride and responsibility to the environment.

Africa Fashion Week in London!

It was a privilege and an honor to showcase our products in London! Due to our participation in Reroll Station Lab, made possible by A+fashion Agency and the British High Commission, we were invited to exhibit our products at the Africa Fashion Week in London. The event took place in a beautiful cathedral in Soho. There was a marketplace where upcoming and established African designers were selling their merchandise. Upstairs there was a hall with talks and a runway where amazing outfits were shown for the first time! We exhibited our denim recycled carpet, sandals from Nigeria, and prototypes of a TUMMI (coming soon! ☺️), a kitchen set, and a backpack. We got a lot of positive feedback and a lot of ideas and business cards were exchanged. Would you like to get the feel for the fashion show? Click here to watch!    

Africa Collect Textiles: Changing the Narrative One Outfit at a Time

The importation of second-hand clothes has been growing in East Africa with the value imported in the EAC (East African Community) in 2015 amounting to $151 million. SHC (Second Hand Clothes) are deemed to be cheaper and of better quality than the new clothing available on the market, hence the demand for SHC is quite high in Kenya. The SHC are cheaper than the new clothing in all the EAC States and the largest importers of SHC into the EAC are from USA, UK, Canada and China. There is generally a negative impact of SHC trade on the fashion industry and our environment. We are also contributing to this problem by purchasing so many clothes and then tossing them out with the rest of our waste. There are various documentaries that show most of these clothes end up in landfills, so how can you change this as an individual? Well we had the opportunity to talk to Alex Musembi from Africa Collect Textiles. Africa Collect Textiles is a social impact enterprise that collects used textiles and footwear for reuse and recycling in Africa. In our interview, Alex gives us an insight on how to get involved in upcycling and repurposing fabrics and material. In terms of promoting upcycling and recycling, what inspired you to go green? We have seen the waste created from used textiles and wondered; why are clothes only collected in North American, European and Asian countries? We have also seen that recycling techniques have become more and more accessible. Moreover, we believe we do not really have a choice. It is unlikely that in 10 to 20 years our clothes will be produced or organized the same way as they are now. We simply cannot produce enough new cotton for everyone in the world. We believe the only way to support our planet and to make sure people can be dressed decently is by becoming circular and making sure we use our items and materials to their full potential. Then there are a lot of problems created by the current textile industry. Textile burning and dumping cause many environmental hazards like toxic fumes, blockage of drainage system within our cities, polluting our rivers and killing sea animals that consume the micro plastics. What are some of the products you have made from upcycled fabrics? If our collected items cannot be worn again they are processed into carpets, shoes, bags, blankets and patchworked sheets (to make new clothes from). Although in the future we would like to process collected materials into fibres or granulates, to be used as filling, pressed plates and eventually new fabrics. Together with partners we would like to design and develop circular clothes and footwear that are designed to be recycled. What do you do in a situation where a fabric or an item cannot be recycled because of the material? The issues with garments start from the design stage. They are not designed with future recovery and recycling in mind. Nevertheless a lot of the items we collect can be reused, recycled or at least down cycled, for example in cleaning materials.Of course there are materials that are of such bad quality or unclear mixed materials that cannot be reused or recycled. We keep them until we find a solution for them. When specific waste streams (e.g. cotton, acrylic, polyester, etc) are big enough, only then it becomes interesting to design a solution for them and invest in the required recycling machinery. We also emphasize that the items need to be collected clean and dry. When a house cleaning service in Washington is an issue, it becomes very challenging to find the right one, so if you contact American Maid Service from Yelm, WA you will probably find everything you need. That is why we also create our own collection system as we cannot afford them to be mixed with other materials, for example with food waste. Are you only based in Nairobi? Where are your drop off locations located in Nairobi? We started in Nairobi, but we are branching out to Diani and Nakuru and also exploring Rongo in Migori. Last year we did a feasibility study in Lagos, Nigeria and we will roll out sometime this year. We have about 25 collection points in Nairobi, for example in the Village Market, Strathmore university, check out our pick up points . To avoid the collection bins to fill up too quickly, people can also request for a pick up for bulky donations or large items like mattresses. E4Impact Accelerator Kenya awarded you a trophy (congratulations on that), what innovations made you different and helped you receive that award? ACT was previously accelerated by E4Impact and was awarded a grant from E4impact Foundation. We received the trophy because we are rolling out a new service in Africa that is recognized as having a big potential for environmental impact, but also for job creation. Therefore we won because we are kickstarting circularity for fashion & textiles and because we have a clear roadmap for that. We know what we started and we know where we are heading What are some of the challenges you have come across in your textile collection model? The biggest challenge is to build up the correct infrastructure for the volumes we collect. As we are growing our volumes we have to jump into bigger spaces and take up new recycling processes. This requires a leap of faith from investors, which we receive from DOEN Foundation. Support by the plastic injection molding company has been phenomenal in helping us implement our goals, you can read some reviews of wunder-mold. Next to that we are experiencing a challenge in changing people’s narrative about used textiles. We are building a culture of handling textiles in a sustainable manner and discourage people from mixing their textiles with other waste. In our journey we also have to change people’s mindset and behaviour. The Corona Virus has enforced us to use disposable face masks for almost a year

Zola ACT launch

Watch and enjoy what unfolded in the event marking the new partnership between Africa Collect Textiles and Zola Afrique! This event was proud to host a number of like-minded influencers. We want to normalise the separation of used textiles and influence the behaviour of young people. We make them more aware of the impact their clothes have and show that used textiles deserve a second life. They can be reused or recycled into beautiful products! We aim to work with Zola Afrique, not only for collecting used textiles and footwear, but also to produce, promote and sell recycled products. We are thankful for all the support we receive in our mission towards a circular economy for textiles!

Feasibility Study ACT Nigeria

just before the pandemic hit our planet, the ACT team conducted a feasibility study in Lagos, Nigeria for installing the (Kenyan) ACT textile collection and recycling model. Studies show the megacity of Lagos discards between 100 to a 1000 metric tonnes each and every day! The loss of value and the pollution caused by textile waste is immense. The study answers the main question: “In what way, if any, could the ACT model be implemented in Lagos, Nigeria to allow for long-term, financial and technical feasibility of a local textile collection and recycling business?” This question was further broken down along four dimensions and respective questions: Socio-cultural dimension: Which cultural norms or existing practices may affect the donation, collection, and re-use of used textiles / clothes? Economic / market dimension: How, if at all, will the current demand and supply of textile waste and potential up- / recycled products as well as the current actor landscape in Lagos affect the financial and technical feasibility of the ACT model in Lagos? Business / legal dimension: Which financial, legal, and infrastructural factors need to be considered before setting up ACT Nigeria? Design dimension: How should all other dimensions as well as additional local factors and capacities influence the final structure of ACT Nigeria, in terms of its organizational, material, technical and visual design? Given the diversity of topics to cover and data to gather, the research of this study was conducted with a mix of classic (qualitative) tools of inquiry and additional hands-on, experimental and networking activities. One of the most efficient cleaning methods are gain by hiring maid easy. This study is made possible by Dutch governmental organisation RVO, Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland. Interested in the world of textile waste in Lagos and the outcomes of the study? Download the report here.

Partnership with DOEN Foundation

Africa Collect Textiles (ACT) is proud to announce our Partnership with DOEN Foundation. DOEN is an organization from the Netherlands and supports inspiring business ideas that are innovative, brave and in tune with their 3 values. The values include; Green innovation, Social Inclusivity and Creativity (Art & Culture) DOEN Foundation has granted us their commitment by funding ACT’s expansion activities in Kenya for an 18-month duration. These expansion activities involve; workspace expansion, collection point expansion, operational cost coverage and supervisory assistance. This is a great boost to our Mission: To promote a cleaning service in Colorado by visiting https://reliablecleaningcolorado.com/. DOEN means ‘do’ or ‘doing’. Just like ACT, we drive sustainable change by stepping up, which is captured and embedded in both organisations names and cultures. Some of the great property managers in California find on http://loftypm.com/. We believe we can go very far together and change the course of the Kenyan fashion industry! Thank you DOEN Foundation!

Bijzonder nieuws uit Kenia

Een succes, dat is het zonder twijfel te noemen. Ruim veertig ontwerpers en architecten schreven zich afgelopen jaar in voor weer een nieuwe editie van de Circulair Design Award. De Circulair Design Award is een initiatief van Rabobank Metropoolregio Amsterdam en Desko. Ieder jaar wordt de bijzondere award uitgereikt aan het beste circulaire interieur- of productdesign. Elmar stromer, founder van textielinzameling en recyclingbedrijf Africa Collect Textiles (ACT), won de 1e prijs met zijn ontwerp voor de stoel Duffus. Veel tweedehandskleding uit Nederland wordt doorverkocht aan Keniaanse importeurs. Kleding wordt gedragen en vervolgens verbrand of gedumpt. ACT zamelt gedragen textiel (opnieuw) in middels inzamelcontainers op universiteiten, in winkelcentra en kerken in Nairobi. Door middel van ‘low-tech’ recycling methodes worden materiaal gerecycled en gescheiden gehouden. Zo kunnen ze blijvend gerecycled worden. Elmar bedacht een speciale techniek voor het gerecyclede materiaal geïnspireerd op de weeftechniek voor Afrikaans haar. Denk hierbij aan producten zoals schoenen, matten, poefs en stoelen. Elmar zijn missie is lokaal een werkplaats in te richten, banen te creëren en de producten verder te ontwikkelen en te produceren Onlangs kregen bijzonder nieuws uit Kenia wat wij graag met u willen delen. Elmar is de afgelopen tijd in Kenia druk geweest en heeft met het gewonnen geld al hele goede stappen gezet richting een circulair textiel keten!  Hij stuurde ons de foto’s van mensen die al volop denim aan het recyclen zijn in hippe matten. Het inzamelen, het recyclen en deze banen worden dus mede mogelijk gemaakt door het doorzettingsvermogen van Elmar en het prijzengeld van de circulair design Award. Daar worden we blij van.

We’re turning rags into designer chic

Alex Musembi makes cash where most see trash. For close to five years now, Alex has been rummaging through waste collection points looking for used clothing, fabric and footwear, which he recycles into items for sale. The 30-year-old co-founder of Africa Collect Textiles (ACT), then sells these items through his firm, which makes and sells bales of second-hand clothes, shoes, mats and rags for local and export markets. Alex got the idea for ACT while working for an international textile company headquartered in The Netherlands. “I came to realise that in Amsterdam, people had found a way to make money from used textiles, while back home in Kenya, people threw their used clothing and shoes.” Alex teamed up with a colleague of his, Elmar Stroomer, and the two requested funding worth Sh4 million from their employer to conduct a survey on how Kenyans disposed of used clothing and shoes. They got the financing, embarked on their research and found that most Kenyans throw out old clothes and shoes with other garbage. “We came to realise that Kenya only offered a rich market for second-hand clothes that were made from other countries. But once these clothes were used, they were either burnt or sent to landfills,” says Alex. In the nine months to September last year, for instance, Kenyans imported 134 million kilos of second-hand clothes (or 134,000 tonnes). Alex and Elmar’s research revealed that about 35 million kilogrammes (or 350,000 tonnes) of textile are discarded every year, and of these, Nairobi alone contributes 20 million kilos. “This translates to huge potential lying unexploited in Kenya. Our company, and the few other textile recycling companies, can only handle a small fraction of all these unwanted clothes discarded every year.” Design background Alex and Elmar decided to use part of the funding they got to open their own textile company in Nairobi, ACT, that would recycle the clothes and shoes that people throw away. That was in 2013. Elmar, who has a background in design, would do the research and come up with new designs for shoes and clothes, while Alex would oversee the daily running of the business. Now ACT is a full textile company, complete with collection points for used textiles, a fully equipped processing unit, a warehouse and a ready market in Kenya, West Africa and in The Netherlands. The company works with various organisations and communities to set up branded collection points where used clothes and unwanted footwear can be dropped off. The company’s leading collection points are in churches, universities and shopping malls. To encourage these more environmentally friendly drop-offs, ACT has collaborated with some supermarkets to give donors points they can redeem for products. In universities, the firm contributes to a student’s kitty. The collected items are then taken to a warehouse where they’re sorted into wearable and non-wearable textiles, depending on damage. Wearable items are washed and then sold or donated to homes. Non-wearable textiles are further sorted in terms of their material composition and taken to a processing unit where they’re turned into second-hand items. These include blankets, towels, poofs, clothes, pillow filling, lamp shades and seat covers. Denim shoes Alex says ACT has so far collected enough materials to make up to 2,000 pairs of denim shoes (like what he’s holding in the picture). Locally, the shoes retail at Sh2,000; they cost more in export markets. Alex, who holds a degree in human resources from the University of Nairobi, says ACT has been helped by its competitive edge over other companies in a similar line of business. “Most companies in West Africa, where we also enjoy a huge chunk of the market, buy raw materials, while we don’t. We make our products from what people throw away. That’s usually a huge cut on the costs we incur,” he says. Easy as it sounds, though, starting a processing company that uses waste isn’t entirely a stress-free venture, says Alex. The huge starting capital needed is one of the hurdles. “You need a well-equipped processing unit and design expertise to make products that will be appealing to buyers. Otherwise, you’ll end up collecting stuff and selling it at a throwaway price to manufacturers,” he says. He notes that ACT sometimes sells a kilo of damaged soles to Bata, a shoe manufacturer, at just Sh60 a kilo. Collecting unwanted textiles also requires quite a bit of explaining. “It can be challenging explaining to people why you need the unwanted textiles. We’ve been required to do a lot of paperwork and explaining to top institutions where we set up collection bins. Some even ask what’s in it for them, and you have to give them a cut. Sometimes the free textiles don’t come to us free at all.” Hardest hits But it’s been important to forge collaborations with well-established institutions to build credibility around the business. “One of the hardest hits we took was the closure of several Nakumatt outlets. We were among the first people to know the retailer was planning to shut some of its outlets as it was a privilege Nakumatt accorded to everyone it had partnered with. The ACT collection points that brought in the most textiles were at Nakumatt stores.” Alex and Elmar took the news in stride and looked for alternative collection points, including in large estates. And for its efforts, ACT caught the attention of the E4Impact Accelerator Programme. It was selected among 20 start-ups that will benefit from mentorship and networking with well-established Italian businesses, as well as the chance to pitch to potential investors. The programme also gives start-ups free office space for 12 months, business coaching and Sh1.5 million in seed funding.

Africa Collect Textiles, Full Circle show with @joyceomondi

Full Circle show with @joyceomondi @switchtvke Discussion on how to make the Textile & Fashion industry circular. Be amazed on the collaboration between us @africa.collect.textiles & @zolaafrique You can drop your used textiles and footwear in @zolaafrique shop within Nairobi CBD, at Kenya House building Opposite KEMU University Towers. For other collection points across Nairobi, visit our website belowhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4APd62jYO58&feature=emb_title