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Cambodian temple walking monk

From CAMBODIA with love

Cambodia, rich with mindfulness and handcraft skills, is a country that's learned to upcycle all possible waste. 

Despite recent very sad political and human devastation caused by Khmer Rouge regime that wiped out 25% of the population, Cambodian people manage to sustain a peaceful and friendly lifestyle. Researchers say that as Cambodians mostly follow Buddhism, and that this helps them to live day by day in balance and to have accepting attitudes to their circumstances and environment. I am amazed how Cambodian citizens are content with their tough environment. People appreciate the little things they are given, and they seem able to create joy from minimal means. Cambodians never complain, in fact it is out of order to express disagreement or complain of any life difficulty. Maybe that’s what helped them to get through repressions.

Cambodia is still at the beginning of bringing basic infrastructure to rural areas, and the economy is still underdeveloped. As a result, many locals use basic skills to feed themselves. A lot of agriculture and craftsmanship can be found in every part of the country. For production the locals use all kinds of natural resources like trees, stones, grass, roots....  Apart from more or less traditional resources, locals use materials and methods to produce goods that are less familiar for us westerners.

 Cambodians have developed amazing talent to transform waste into treasure.

A lot of waste can be found around this beautiful country. Part of the cause of this problem is a lack of developed recycling systems, and it is also rumoured that more developed countries ship their rubbish to Cambodia.

Cambodian craftswoman upcycled cement bags

Creativity and the positive attitude of Cambodians helped them to approach the problem in a way they could benefit from. Unwanted rubbish became a resource. People started to collect objects and upcycle them in-to something valuable and pretty. Bullet cases found in the ground after the war became jewellery, old metal scraps were upcycled into home décor objects, pre-used factory cement carrying bags became fashion bags and other unwanted agricultural items were also used to provide resources.  Of course, there is no doubt that Cambodians are very talented and skilful, and that skill has been useful. This is usually in small community workshops where all production is very slow. However, it allows them to approach their work with careful accuracy.

Cambodian woman wash upcycled cement and rice sack

UppyBags found their way from Cambodia.

Export opportunity is rare for businesses in this still very early developing country. If not for travelling there, we would never have discovered their potential. Working with wonderful people in Cambodia has been a great experience and very rewarding. As a result, we now have UppyBags, which is growing as a strong brand of ethical accessories, popular across Europe among people who want to wear sustainability and support this developing society.


1 comment

Dear sveltana,

I absolutely love your bags and the ethos ❤️ I’m actually in Phnom Penh and wondering if there’s anyway I can purchase one of your bags here ? Thanks

Sarah O Malley

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