What happens to that pretty cotton saree when it thins with wear and washing? Those scraps of fabric that get cut and discarded by the ‘master ji’ during the hand tailoring process or on an automated assembly line? The strips of leather that don’t fit into the design of a chic bag? Most of the time, these scraps see the bottom of a bin and eventually end up in a landfill as a total waste, polluting the soil or are burned, polluting the air.
Sometime in the mid 90s, designers started to realize (with a little help from Reiner Pilz of Pilz GmbH who first used the term and propagated the idea!) that all that fabric thrown away as scrap could be put to good use and be financially viable as well. And a whole new movement in fashion began. In India, however, households had been ‘upcycling’ for centuries before the term was even coined or climbed high on every designer’s agenda as a new income stream and as a means to be socially responsible. Back then, these were crafts born out of thrift, out of a need to reduce household expenditure, to reduce waste and even to satisfy that creative bug! Only, they weren’t called upcycling. They were called by local names – Kantha, Khesh, Gudri and Chindi.
So what is Upcycling? Upcycling is not merely re-using or re-purposing old objects or fabrics that are at the end of their life cycle. To upcycle is to create something new, of better value and quality. Some call it ‘Trashion’ (Trash-Fashion), others believe this is ‘Sustainable Fashion’ and they are all right. Upcycling is a big, wondrous step towards leaving the planet cleaner and greener.
So what can I get in India that is upcycled and fashionable?
Jewelry! Like earrings, rings and necklaces made from PET plastic bottles, or jackets and skirts made from upcycled Kantha patches. You can also get magazine holders and coasters made with waste paper and so much more.
Want some? Keep checking www.jaypore.com for new upcycled products every day this week.
Images via Jaypore, Alcha of Santiniketan & Samoolam.