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Kaam Ki Baat

How Ecokaari is transforming waste into Fashion?

From Waste to Fashion: How Pune-based enterprise is transforming waste into fashion?

A Kashmiri youth has made a different identity by overcoming difficulties. Pune-based social entrepreneur Nandan Bhat creates valuable fashion accessories from single-use ‘plastic waste’.

The motto of his company Ecokaari is ‘Humanize Fashion’. EcoKaari produces bags, home decor items, table mats, cushion covers, laptop bags, etc.

How does this company talk about vocal for local? 

Nandan’s passion for India’s traditional handicrafts and sustainable living has led to a successful venture through which he has achieved many goals not only for his company but also for society. He is reaping huge dividends by following ‘Vocal About Local’. Charka (Cheat) and Handloom are two eco-friendly resources of his companies, which reduce the carbon footprint. Initially, for a few years, they did not have to invest much capital as only a handful of weavers were employed.

His previous unit was shut down after the outbreak of Kovid-19 last year. Last September, he started anew with only a few employees. Today their staff strength has gone up to 21.

How Ecokaari is saving the environment? 

According to a 2019 report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates about 8 grams of plastic per person per day. This equates to 3.3 million metric tons of mass per year. A Pune-based firm is doing its bit for the environment by making useful products from plastic waste. Ecokaari is a social enterprise with two objectives, protection of the environment and providing livelihood to women and youth as artisans. Ecokaari is a combination of two words, eco-friendly and workmanship (craftsmanship) which denotes both these objectives. They are transforming waste into fashion.

How do they transform waste into fashion?

  • The process begins with the procurement of raw material, that is, non-biodegradable and difficult-to-recycle plastic waste.
  • The products come from discarded packaging materials, packets of chips, cookies, gift wrappers, and even old audio or video cassette tapes, which are then divided according to their colours, size, and thickness.
  •  It might seem that since waste plastic is always lying in some litter around, it might be easy to collect them. But it is not. For a long, consistent thread that makes weaving easy, particular kinds of discarded plastics can not be used. These include hard plastics like tetra packs, small plastics like straws, and packets that are ripped open or cut at the corners.
  • EcoKaari sources plastics from three places only. Firstly, plastic is collected from conscious citizens who donate their household waste plastic. They either drop it off at the Pune workshop or courier it there.

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  • Apart from this, plastic is also collected from small companies that use plastic for the packaging of their food items. Lastly, plastic is bought from an NGO that works with waste-pickers, thus creating an alternative earning channel. These plastics are then cleaned using minimal water and natural cleaner, sundried, cut into strips manually, rolled on a traditional Charkha, and woven into a handloom.
  • From here, the design team takes over, and tailors stitch these fabrics into products. These products are mainly sold through the organisation’s website. They also retail the products from their office in Pune and directly sell them through exhibitions.
  • Besides, they also have export partners in Australia, Dubai, France, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the USA.

How do they turn out as a different award-winning enterprise? 

In terms of achievements and goals, EcoKaari has upcycled more than 2 lakh units of plastic bags and wrappers in less than a year. In addition, the venture has supported 22 rural artisans and plans to increase the number to 50 by the end of next year.

So the next time you have an empty plastic packet, instead of throwing it in the trash, consider donating it to Ecokaari or God forbid, out in the open. You can own an exquisite handbag or plant pods.

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Jagisha Arora

MA in History and has worked as a freelance writer. She writes on issues of gender, caste and democracy.
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