Turning CWG rubbish into handmade fashion bags

Australian sustainability professional Liz Franzmann is collaborating with Delhi-based NGO Conserve India to create daily-use handmade items by upcycling the waste produced in the Games.

"We are hoping that the Games will help the people to see the environment in a new light and become more environmentally conscious," Franzman told PTI.

Typically, upcycling refers to the practice of taking disposable or discarded things and repurposing them into valuable, useful, or aesthetically pleasing items. As opposed to recycling, upcycling does not devalue the price of the finished product.

Meanwhile, Franzmann's journey to India began about three years ago when she befriended Anita Ahuja, founder of Conserve India during a seminar at IIT Delhi and has been working since then on a pilot project to identify and upcycle the waste produced by the Games.

"We hope to capture the positive legacy of the Games and turn the waste into valuable products. Anita and her team is already working with the city's poor helping them extract waste from Delhi's landfills to create fashionable items such as bags, footwear and stationery items among others," says the Australian.

A week prior to the beginning of the Games,  they had secured their first waste haul in the form of promotional canvas and vinyl banners sporting "Go India! Go for Gold" which was turned into limited edition designer bags.

Armed with a three-month grant from her government, Franzmann has worked with previous big events like the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup in South Africa.
"There are many similarities Delhi Games had with the other big international events.

Major events like this produce a lot of waste material including construction and demolition activities before the event," she says."It is also very challenging to collect the waste materials as you have to convince a lot of people about its importance," she adds.
"Earlier in May the organisers had estimated the waste at about 3000 tonnes by the end of the Games. We are talking to the organisers to help us get more waste rather than it being sent to the landfills. We hope to contribute our bit to the environment and also get people to appreciate that good things can be made out of waste," says Franzmann.
Once they get approval from the Delhi 2010 Organising Committee, Conserve India will be auctioning the bags produced through their project blog site.

"We hope these products will help the Games organisers see that we can deliver so they give more waste materials to upcyclers like us rather than sending them to landfills," says Anita Ahuja, founder of Conserve India.

Ragpickers are employed by Ahuja's organisation to collect thousands of discarded plastic bags in New Delhi, sort them on the basis of colour and wash them.  No dyes are used and the original colour of the plastic bags is retained.

The bags are then moulded into thick sheets and stitched into colourful handbags, belts, jewellery and other accessories which are sold in markets in UK, US and other European countries.

The organisation, which started out in 1998 with just a few employees, now has 300 workers from lower income groups and an annual turnover of around 20 million rupees .

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