An innovative team of young people started up Re:Fresh, a new way of consuming and looking at produce. Your parents may have taught you not to play with your food, but having fun with it has never been this good… We asked Sarah Melville from the Re:Fresh team to share their story, their mission and their passion for sustainability with us.
Tell us the Re:Fresh story. Why did Re:Fresh begin and how?
Sarah Melville: Re:Fresh was born out of UCT Upstarts – a Social Innovation Challenge designed to enthuse and inspire young and upcoming entrepreneurs to do the impossible and “Imagine a New Africa.” We set out in pursuit of a small dream: Re:Fresh hopes to motivate young, fit South Africans to consume consciously and rethink their use of everyday appliances. We hope to achieve this through our quirky and healthy bicycle-powered juices.
We crowdfunded our way past our tipping point on Thundafund, and from then on there was no looking back. The expertise and exposure that was gained through being a part of the UCT Upstarts program, and our crowdfunding efforts have definitely played the most valuable role in getting Re:Fresh off of the ground thus far.
What makes Re:Fresh unique?
Melville: We’re all about creating a culture around sustainability that is tangible and thoroughly interactive. We’ve rejected the idea of consumer passivity in the purchase process. With Re:Fresh the consumer must be mindful of their consumption and the energy that is required in the consumption process at the same time as having a fun, healthy experience.
At our market stall, you will be able to pick and choose from a variety of our shapely, organic produce. Once you have settled on your own unique recipe, you’ll watch your fruits and veggies transform into liquid goodness as you pedal away to the whizz and hum of our blenders – and before you know it, your delicious juice will be ready and waiting for you.
In this creation process, we invite individuals to challenge the picture-perfect, throwaway culture that is globally pervasive, especially in the market for fruits and vegetables.
Why is a company like Re:Fresh important? How are you changing the industry?
Melville: One of Re:Fresh’s fundamental aims is to change attitudes around waste and sustainability. Through the self-sufficient process of cycling one’s own juice, we hope to promote a sustainable lifestyle through little steps, in a fun, trendy and healthy way.
Re:Fresh has a no tolerance waste policy – we use recycled glass jars and second-hand equipment to try and reduce our carbon footprint as much as we possibly can, while we promote consuming consciously and living self-sufficiently to our customers.
Our produce is sourced from local micro-farmers in and around Cape Town. Supporting our local farmers and the organic community is just as important to us as living sustainably is. Through promoting sustainability and organic fruit and veg farmers, Re:Fresh ultimately aims to banish misconceptions around living self-sufficiently, and reduce unnecessary food wastage in the fruit and vegetable industry.
What has been the biggest challenge in getting Re:Fresh off the ground?
Melville: Coming to terms with the expression “you try, you fail, you try, you fail, but the real failure is when you stop trying.” The biggest challenge has definitely been keeping our faith in the project and in ourselves – especially when nothing seems to be working. For example, when our initial bicycle circuit design broke within minutes of its creation. None of us have much experience in mechanics or engineering. However, through this process, we have all learnt so much. Every challenge we encounter is an opportunity to gain invaluable skills and hence we head into every experience with an open mind.
What has been the biggest highlight on the Re:Fresh journey so far?
Melville: The help that we’ve constantly been receiving. Everyone who has heard about our project has been enthusiastic and willing to offer their time and expertise. The most exciting thing for us though is probably when like-minded businesses or projects express a desire to team up with us once we’re off the ground. We look forward to an expansive team of projects working together to promote sustainability and combat waste!
Your favourite smoothie/juice recipe, if you had to choose one?
Melville: We’re massive fans of Beetroot! Our favourite juice recipe contains the following ingredients: Beetroot, apples, lemons and ginger.