Bright ideas: Japson showing his creations, which range from decorative items such as light figurines and his wedding car decorations to large sculptures for malls and hotels.

Turning trash into treasure

KOTA KINABALU: Instead of forking out cash after getting married and buying his first house, a former marine biologist repurposed scrap for decoration and furnishing.

Japson Wong, 35, opted to come up with his own creations, made out of trash, rather than getting second-hand stuff for his home.

Wanting beautiful lights among other pieces to make it homey, Wong used PVC pipes taken from construction sites and other places to make figurine lamps.

“After my friends saw what I had created, they told me that I could actually sell them.

“But at the time I only created things during my free time as I was working as a marine biologist and researcher,” he said.

Wong went full-time into this after being short-changed by a firm to look into how to use discarded materials to make new items.

I was only paid half of what I was promised, he said.

“I thought, why should I bear with such unfair treatment? I can actually do this on my own, working with unwanted items and turning them into valuables,” he said.

He then brainstormed with friends, including engineers, photographers and a teacher on the items they could make and sell.

Wong also started collecting materials from factories, construction sites and even from people who contacted him offering their household trash.

“I had a small customer base and grew the business through word of mouth and social media,” Wong said, adding he now has two full-time helpers working with him.

He takes part in exhibitions and booth sales, whenever he can, to promote the business and to create awareness on upcycling.

Now, five years on, the father of two boys has a thriving business turning trash into treasure and selling them on various platforms, and even getting the attention of international players.

Wong makes bespoke decorations, sculptures, furniture and other usable items. His creations are sold for as little as a few ringgit to more than RM10,000.

He also dedicates time to teach others to upcycle.

“Our world is getting ill, global warming is real and we need to play our part to help keep the earth greener.

“This is how I chose to help and I hope to get more people to join me.

“Looking back at what I’ve achieved so far, I can’t say that I regret quitting my job to venture into the unknown.

“The only thing I might regret is not taking up engineering because I think it could have helped me more,” Wong quipped.

His works can be found at the Facebook page JF Production – KK.

Article appeared on the Star Online.