Doing good socially and environmentally with YOLO Compost Tumblers

Small companies can make a big difference to their social and environmental impact both through their products and conscious efforts to reduce, reuse and recycle waste. In little over six months, YOLO Colours is already making a measurable difference with their YOLO Compost Tumblers, a convenient and effective solution to recycle organic waste from the kitchen and garden.

Compost tumbling is a convenient method to compost organic waste from the kitchen and garden. As a closed-bin system, compost tumbling matures compost faster than compost heaps and they take far less space. YOLO Compost Tumblers are pest-proof and odour-free, and they are suitable for homes with large gardens, small gardens or no gardens.

While concept of compost tumbling has been around for decades, YOLO Colours has taken it further to create a product that is robust, long-lasting, effective and that looks good. Their playful colours have been well received by customers. YOLOs are manufactured in the Free State town of Parys and their materials are locally sourced, primarily from suppliers in Gauteng.

Measuring social and environmental impact

“I recently completed a form that asked me to quantify our social impact,” says Lisa de Speville, Director of YOLO Colours. She realised that although her company is still relatively new, her product already has a far greater social and environmental impact that she had expected.

“Consider 100 YOLO Compost Tumblers across our three sizes. On average, each customer puts out one less black bag of organic waste per week; that’s 5,200 plastic bags plus the contents each year that would have ended up in landfill. These were numbers worth discovering,” she adds.

De Speville primarily sees her product as a convenient solution to recycle organic waste and to keep it out of landfill. In landfill, organic refuse decomposes anaerobically under layers of trash to release the potent greenhouse gas methane. Instead, with her YOLO Compost Tumblers,  nutrient-rich compost is created and 100 customers will, on average, produce 8,500 kilograms of compost a year, which goes back into their gardens to improve soil quality.

“That municipalities have less trash to pick up on garbage day and that less plastic bags end up in landfill are measurable social and environmental impacts that directly result from composting – by any means. To recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass a chain of handling and processes is involved. From informal recyclers, recycling bins and centres to processing plants… Composting organic waste, whether you’re in an apartment, townhouse or house, stops with you. You buy a banana, eat the banana, toss the peel into your YOLO and weeks later you empty a shell of compost into your garden.”

YOLO recycles their waste

YOLO Compost Tumblers are manufactured by rotational moulding (aka rotomoulding), a process that is much like that of making hollow chocolate Easter bunnies.

“We need only the plastic powder, our moulds and a big oven to make the tumblers. Neither chemicals nor water are used in the moulding process,” de Speville explains.

The waste off-cuts of plastic that result from manually trimming and finishing the tumbler shells are saved and are sent to a plastics recycler.

“They love our plastic waste because it is high-quality, clean and uncontaminated.”

Returnable boxes

In September, YOLO launched their large size YOLO Compost Tumbler with its two 200-litre shells. The double-walled cardboard box, in which the unit is sent to customers, is strong and durable and it protects the product during transport.

“We provide the customer with three straps to use to flat-pack and secure the box. We arrange our courier to collect the box from them – at their convenience – to return it to us to reuse. It makes financial, environmental and common sense for us to do this.”

Making the box returnable also solves a problem for the customer: how to dispose of a very large box. While cardboard is a compostable material, tearing a strong double-walled box into smaller pieces to compost is a challenge. Returning the box to YOLO is a win-win for the customer and the company.

YOLO Colours will replace the single-walled boxes for their medium units with double-walled boxes on their next box order. These will be returnable too.

“We’re trying to do things smart, efficiently and consciously,” says de Speville.

“Our aim is to solve problems for our customers, like how to conveniently compost organic waste in a manner that is efficient, pest-proof and odour-free, and in the process to make a positive and measurable environmental and social impact.”

YOLO Compost Tumblers can be ordered directly through the company at They also have a Facebook page (@greenyolo). They will be exhibiting at Homemakers Expo at the Ticketpro Dome in Northriding, Johannesburg from 22-25 February 2018.

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