This Pune-based NGO is churning out chic bags from discarded plastic

Representative of Pune-based Aarohana interacting with the visitors at an exhibition in Visakhapatnam. Aarohana sells up-cycled bags made from discarded plastic. Photo : K.R. Deepak / The Hindu   | Photo Credit: K_R_DEEPAK

Amita Deshpande and Nandan Bhat’s start-up Arahona Ecosocial Development in Pune, churns out chic bags and laptop sleeves from discarded plastic bags and PET bottles.

The representatives of the start-up were recently in Visakhapatnam for theAakruti Vastra exhibition hosted by Crafts Council of Andhra Pradesh. At the stall, among several colourful bags was a laptop that was streaming the aim and journey of Aarohana from the time it was started in 2015.

“The idea was conceived when Nandan and I got fed up of seeing plastic littered across cities, hills, rivers and lakes. We used to go for treks together and it was sad to see beautiful Nature trails littered with wrappers and plastic bottles. Though we both had the urge to do something for Nature, it took us a few years to quit our jobs and jump into this,” she says.

The process begins on the streets of Pune from where these plastic bags are collected. “We have tied up with a few Pune-based organisations like Swach who work in the waste management sector,” says Amita, a former IT employee. Apart from upcycling, the start-up has one more aim - to provide a source of livelihood to rural people. Hence the plastic bags are sent to a tribal hamlet in Dadra and Nagar Haveli over 300 kilometres away from Pune where a team of 13 employees process the plastics into the pretty fabric.“I come from this village and I wanted to create employment opportunities for the place that is otherwise largely dependant on agriculture. In a team of 13, we have 12 women and two men,” she says.

Amita Deshpande and Nandan Bhat

Amita Deshpande and Nandan Bhat   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The upcycling process begins with manually washing the plastic bags which are then separated on the basis of colour and sun-dried on a clothesline. The cleaned plastics are then shredded using scissors. The shreds are later spun into yarn using traditional charkhas, which eventually is woven into fabrics on a handloom. “The workshop has three charkhas and four handlooms. We made this conscious decision of using the age-old tools as they generate more employment and do not consume resources like electricity. The whole process is designed in a manner that we use minimum electricity,” Amita adds.

The sheets of fabrics are then rolled and then sent back to Pune where the production team designs and stitches the bags. “In Pune, we have a team of 13 people who study the fabric and then design bags ,” she says. Over 30 to 40 plastic bottles go into the making of one laptop bag. Till date, the startup has managed to upcycle over a million plastic bags by turning them into totes, handbags, beach bags, yoga mat carrier, dairy covers, pencil pouches and home decor items.

Their products are available online at www.aarohana.org

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:46:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/this-pune-based-ngo-is-churning-out-chic-bags-from-discarded-plastic/article30357851.ece

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