Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Reuse, recycle, repair

Reuse, recycle, repair could well the mantra for the current times we are in. Looks like use and throw lasted too less for us Indians, atleast, but well, we are not too far from our roots either.

Why this thought came to my mind was I happened to be reading about Terracycle Inc which is in the recycling business and how.

Garbage in, garbage out? This old cliché may become obsolete as trash becomes the raw material of innovation and green business. Upcycling, or turning disposable items into new products, is becoming big business. The leading player in this growing industry is TerraCycle, which makes a variety of products from recycled material: fertilizers from worm poop, backpacks from juice pouches and reusable tote bags from plastic bags. Based in Trenton, New Jersey, the 60-person company had $8 million in sales last year and expects $15 million this year.

And perhaps a great business model for these times.

Now in India this business has had thousands of small entrepreneurs. There are junk newspaper buyers, scrap dealers - atleast in Bangalore, one every 100 metres. But beyond the obvious, there are a few other interesting models I have come across. Both from my Mumbai days.

There is this place where if you go with a few old sarees, they will stitch it into a quilt, for a price - and you will not know that it was a saree in its past life. Used sarees, partially torn sarees are now quilts, which can be used as a throw, rug or a blanket. A very similar method is used to create some floor mats - they are made out of rags - possibly from garment factories - considering they are available a dime-a-dozen in Bangalore.

Old silk sarees used to have real silver and gold, until synthetic thread replaced them. So, if you have an old saree, these chaps will melt the silver and gold and pay you a good price for them. If your saree is really old (and has real stuff in it), you get paid quite a bit. Again, I dont recall which area in Bombay these were, but surely either in Matunga or in Ghatkopar.

We Indians are pretty good recyclers - thank our cobblers and umbrella repairers for that. Many of those in the 70s generation will remember how hand-me-downs were almost a given right from textbooks to uniforms to clothes. Today it is lesser especially since schools work on a different mode of making money on everything, but it wasnt too long ago...

Whats next? A recycle mall? Where instead of buying stuff in tons, we go with stuff we dont want and come back with what we do?


Emily said...

Hi, I came across yor blog and wondered if you knew were to buy old sarees that were suitable for cutting up and recreating into new items?

Buying new sarees is expensive and it seems a lot of people make a living by recycling the fabric. But where do they get it from?

I really wanted to try my hand at making some Indian patchwork crafts of my own, so any advice, please let me know!!

Em :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Emily
I can help you with old saris.Email me at Kmerchant3@hotmail.com