All households, once or twice a year, segregate the old clothes and discards them. As per studies conducted, 73 per cent of all such clothes end up in landfill for various reasons such as lack of collection systems and ineffective redistribution. In a survey conducted in 2017, among young people aged between 20-30 years, it was found that 68% of the people buy new clothes every month and impulsive buying was the main reason behind their purchasing intention. Also, when asked, the majority of them responded that they would like to donate the discarded clothes to a NGO or any other charitable cause. But in the absence of any professional help, awareness and knowledge in this front, people end up dumping or reselling these clothes. It is estimated that with the current pace of urban waste being generated, India will need a fresh landfill of the same size as that of its capital, New Delhi. Further, reselling these clothes benefits only the traders and does nothing to improve the economic health of the needy. However, donating such clothes to our organization will help us solve a bigger problem. As a society, it is our responsibility and moral duty to help economically backward people to raise their living standards.
Figure: Route taken by discarded clothes in India, eventually ending up in landfills.
Jaago Bharat Front, through its initiative Vastraay, looks forward to serving the purpose of both providing employment to the women population in slum areas and managing waste through utilization of old clothing. As the name suggests, Vastraay is Vastra + Aay, which means Earning through Clothes. In Vaastray we are dedicated to the cause of educating women, living in slums, to make usable things such as masks, rugs, doormats, bags, etc. through reusing old clothes.
Vastraay is one such effort of Jaago Bharat that aims at the economic and skill development of such people while catering to the issue of waste management. What we do with the old clothes is not the recycling but the upcycling, which is a greener version of the recycling. Unlike recycling, upcycling does not involve breaking down of clothes material/fabric through any chemical/heat/mechanical process rather involves conversion of one form of cloth to the other through the means of cutting and stitching, thus changing the usability of the cloth.
Another NGO, i.e.Jan Jagriti Foundation has joined hands with us to help in this noble cause and has donated a few stitching machines, which are being used to train these women to make carry bags, masks, doormats, pillow covers etc. out of old clothes. This way we are able to develop a community of artisans, who through their skillset can improve its standard of living.
Further, Jaago Bharat organizes small Melas/Trade Fairs in societies/residential complexes, thus providing a platform for these hand-made products to be sold. We would like to invite every responsible citizen to contribute to this noble cause by donating their old clothes, time or funds. It is only through the channelized efforts of aware citizens that we can make a positive difference to the community and the environment.