Meaningful Craft

In recent years, Sabah, Malaysia, or Borneo, has seen a notable surge in the production of sustainable crafts. Sabah is not lacking in inventive minds. The number of artisan and craftsmen using eco-friendly methods has increased in this beautiful region, known for its rich cultural variety and an abundance of natural resources. Many are increasingly using sustainable materials and techniques in their work, ranging from woodcarvings and inventive upcycling projects to traditional handwoven fabrics.

This not only represents the state’s distinctive cultural legacy but also encourages ethical manufacturing and environmental preservation. The sustainability sentiment is growing among the Sabah craft sector. It gives both residents and tourists a captivating fusion of innovation and heritage while also improving the well-being of local communities.

Let’s get to know these local business owners better as we get together to honor and support them.

1.Upcycled Shack

Upcycled Shack does more than just provide a venue for selling the upcycled items; it also equips, educates, and trains underprivileged communities to do the same. It’s amazing to see what they can make out of discarded plastic, from jewelry to decorations to decorative items for the house. They have also mastered the arts of making brushes out of coconut husks, miniature sculptures from used coffee capsules, and decoration from dried rice stalks!

Instagram: upcycled_shack

2. Japson_Upcycle

Mr Japson brings life to whatever ‘junk’ that attracts him. You name it, and he probably has a quirky and remarkable concept for it, whether it be an old pipe, used coffee capsules, plastic, glass bottles, or newspaper. In addition to that, he is an expert in the creation of polygonal three-dimensional sculptures and event props. He frequently lends his creative mind to any organization or corporation that requires his bold and creative advices.

Instagram: japson_upcycle


Ripple is a Sabah Recycling Association specializing in recycling glass bottles. Do you know that recycling 1 glass bottle can save enough energy to power a light bulb for up to 4 hours! Ripple gathers clean glass bottles from the public and crushes them into glass sand before repurposing them as garden pavers brick or flower pots. Isn’t that amazing? When discarding a glass bottle, remember Ripple!

Instagram: ripple_sabah

4. Brutti Besi

Brutti & Besi is a home-grown bespoke sustainable furniture maker. They create aesthetic designs and build furniture made of wood and steel. This group of youth continue to empower local talents and uplift their potential as a wood craft artisan. In addition to corporate orders, they also make custom wooden trinkets for individuals. When they put up a booth at a creative bazaar, you may pick up useful items like coasters, serving trays, home decor, and mini bookcases.

Instagram: Bruttibesi

5. YBcuts

Need a personalized laser cut and engraving service? Look for YBcuts. They used recyclable and degradable wood materials for their finished products. They’ve made lovely things like fancy frames, Christmas decorations, wooden photography props, bookmarks, keychains, wedding trinkets, wooden menus, and cake toppers. Wood you like to bring home one? Scroll through their page to look out for designs.

Instagram: ybcuts

6. Kelarai_crafts

Kelarai, which is run by Emily Jeneble, helps local communities and artists by keeping cultural practices alive and giving people a way to make a living. They teach women and single mothers how to be skilled artists and give them the tools they need to make a good living, which helps them build a business that can last.

Who knew bamboo could be transformed into a stunning fashion piece? But the crew at Kelarai_crafts can make it happen! Bamboo is finely cut into thin strips and painstakingly woven to create a lovely basket, coin purse, handbag, clutch, trendy folder, and even a table mat. They are well-known for incorporating elaborate Sabah cultural patterns into their goods. Making any piece created by them represents Sabah identity.


7. Lifetime Jewellery Design (ljd.official)

It’s true what they say about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure. This statement is supported by the existence of LJD.The group creates wearable works of art out of discarded plastic! Have a peek at their earring collections, you could be surprised by what you find. Join them in embracing environmentally friendly design and reduce your impact on the environment one accessory at a time by following their lead.


Souvenirs are keepsake items either for personal remembrance of a place we visited or as a gift for our friends and family. It’s easy to grab and go with any generic souvenir but what if we could find a meaningful gift as mentioned above? It would be awesome to share travel stories through an item or accessory.

You can find more creative crafters at Kota Kinabalu’s favourite artisan bazaars; Makers & Maven Market , Urban Tamu and Jesselton Artisan Market.

Last reviewed: April 12, 2024

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