The potli in my hand is made from a leftover kurta fabric.

Reduce Reuse Upcycle

Upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value. It is a creative use of existing products.

How upcycling is different from recycling?

Recycling works by completely breaking down an existing material to craft a new product. Recycling converts waste materials into new materials and objects. The recyclability of a material highly depends on a big factor- its ability to reacquire the properties it had in its virgin state. However, recycling is often difficult or too expensive as compared to producing the same product from raw materials. As a result, brands shy away from it.

On the topic of ‘Sustainability’, Mr Neelendra Singh, MD Adidas India at the Economic Times Global Business Summit 2020 said, “A lot of innovation is yet to happen. Blended fabrics are difficult to disintegrate. The brands will have to refrain from blending fabrics to maintain the circular loop.”

Read the full article here: Sustainable Fashion & Textile- A time for change at Economic Times Global Business Summit

Over the years bamboo, recycled polyester, organic cotton, eucalyptus fabrics et al have become famous for being eco-friendly but they aren’t perfectly zero impact. The collective consciousness has agreed that these products are better than many alternatives but not entirely zero impact.

upcycling saris to kurta
I shall upcycle this sari to a beautiful suit and use the pallu as dupatta.

How Indians have been champions of RECYCLING?

We have seen the elders always taking care of their clothes that ensured they lasted. Suits were made out of unused saris, kurtas were made out of unused dupattas and even a battered T-shirt was made into a duster. In my house, used towels are cut into squares and used as a mop till date.

Whatever was not used was put in an alternative use. NOTHING WAS WASTED.

Cut to now, fast fashion has changed the whole game. Everything is available at an attractive price and nobody wants to move an extra bone. Work pressures, ease of resources, and availability of extra bucks has ensured that ‘convenience’ rules. COVID- 19 just got us back to our senses. When life is in jeopardy, sense prevails. The same hands that never washed a glass, washed a full basin. The same bone that never lifted a broom, swept the whole 5 bedroom apartment. E-commerce stopped working, maids stopped working and life went back to how it’s supposed to be- family members spending time together, family members helping each other in household chores and conservation.

Time to look at Upcycling again.

WHY UPCYCLE?

+Distinct from recycling- Recycling completely breaks down the discarded material. This is done in order to craft an entirely new product.
+ It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt. This is enough water that an average person drinks in 2.5 years.
Upcycling helps reduce the cost of production by reusing already existing materials in the production process.
+ Using upcycled fabric helps to keep the costs low which would have gone high with a new fabric.
+ Increases creativity & innovation- Upcycled products are always unique & stylish. One uses creativity to make a meaninful item out of waste.
+ Conservation of limited resources- Upcycling does not require fresh raw materials to manufacture new products.

I will be bringing stories from brands that care for the environment and upcycle their products out of unthinkable options. This topic is close to my heart and need of the hour in this fractured world.

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