"DWIJ" providing "Second life" to fabrics to make Sustainable Living a reality
May 26th , 2019 | Soumya Annapurna Kalluri
"Takau Pasun Tikau" - Best out of Waste
When we hear the term “best out of waste” or “takau pasun tikau”, one example that comes to our mind is a godhadi or a carry bag made out of old saree which our grandmothers fondly made by conserving resources. The term “upcycling” used by any environmentally conscious consumer refers to the same principle of conservation- where a discarded material is turned into a higher quality/higher value product.
The last few years have seen significant development in the fashion industry, where free trade agreements between various countries has made it easy for brands to manufacture their products in countries in which labor is cheap and transport it all across the world. This has led to the phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’, which has significantly contributed to rising consumerism.
Consumerism driven by falling prices and disposable clothing are creating more waste with every passing year. Large quantities of oil and water, natural and non-renewable resources that are becoming scarce are used to produce synthetic fibres. Toxic chemicals are used to dye clothes to their desired colour, which is also a water intensive operation. In 2015 alone, 98 million tonnes of oil was consumed to produce synthetic fibres. If we consider jeans, it takes as much as 946 liters of water to grow enough cotton for a pair of jeans and an average of 42 liters of water to achieve the typical faded appearance. In addition, other resources like chemicals, electricity and manpower are required in abundance.
Fast fashion and negligible Upcycling happening around
After so many harmful procedures, the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago, while the production has doubled during this period. Worse, around 80 to 100 billion garments that are not used even once are sent to landfills globally every year.
These trends are the typical indicators of the increasing phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’. While there are people who repurpose their clothes, the number is still negligible. The awareness of, the adverse effects of the textile industry and the concept of upcycling is however still at a nascent stage. While the awareness of plastic waste has gained momentum, the adverse effects of textile waste largely goes unnoticed.
I am a Mechanical engineer (Pune) with Masters in Commercial Vehicles Technology (Germany), with prior experience with John Deere, Germany in the area of LCA, and Godrej & Boyce on their upcycling project. Gradually I realized how the retail boom coupled with an easy flow of disposable income amongst young people, is causing hazards at various stages, which is largely going unnoticed. Upcycling is therefore the need of the hour.
Moving towards Zero Waste Practices
I founded ‘dwij ’ in the above context, with a mission to promote circular products made from upcycled post-consumer garments and post-industrial garment waste that would otherwise end up in landfill. "Dwij", means second life in Sanskrit (द्वि = Twice, ज = Born). The product range includes utility bags, shopping bags, handbags, and other accessory products targeted for an environmentally conscious consumer.
We have an inhouse manufacturing setup as well as a network of woman working from home who need an additional income to support their families. While we want to increase the awareness towards upcycled products, hygiene remains a top priority to ensure that the customer views an upcycled product at par with a virgin product. Dwij is also moving towards zero waste practices. As a part of this initiative, we have recently launched hand-made jewellery made by women groups, from the left-over fabrics of its own manufacturing process.
Currently, we have a special focus on jeans since it is a versatile fabric, highly popular, durable and extremely sturdy. Further, as mentioned above, the environmental cost of manufacturing of jeans is immense. Most people discard jeans because they fade off or the size no longer fits. The properties of jeans gives a very good opportunity to upcycle into other value added items that increases the lifespan of the fabric.
Awareness towards sustainable future
Since its inception, Dwij has upcycled more than 3,500 pairs of jeans to create more than 2,500 bags. Dwij deals in retail through its online portal and various other e-com platforms, while also dealing in wholesale or corporate orders.
I wish to spread the awareness that small incremental changes to individual lifestyle can also lead to sustainable future, and urge you to become a conscious consumer by preferring quality over quantity, by making a requirement-based purchase, by upcycling of everyday items at home. Together we can easily fight fast fashion and transform the world into a sustainable living!
The author of the story is Soumya Founder of ‘DWIJ’ and you can reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org
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