Bharati Reuse Studio - Story behind!
This is Amita, co-founder of Bharati Reuse Studio. This is a story of how Engineering and MBA graduate, working as a consultant for giants like Deutsche Bank, IKEA, AIA, HCL, KPMG and many other MNCs moved on to being a yoga trainer and thus into exploring sustainable ways to ensure that fabric does not reach land fills before their end of life.
As a consultant, I was occupied with travels across the world, home chores, making out some time for activities to give back to society in need. Donating food to migrant workers/students/patient attendants, gifting study material to children, contributing to animal life and plantation NGOs etc were a few of the giving back attempts on our birthdays, festivals or even on casual days. It went on like that for more than a decade. Slowly, I realized that I am not happy even if I am spending time/donating to any cause that came on my way. Life gave me an opportunity to take a break from corporate life and explore what my inner self is guiding me.
First few days after quitting full time job were about park visits, reading books, cooking healthy food at home, sorting out stuff at home that is unused for a long time. This daily routine has given me a self-posed challenge to incorporate zero waste measures. Kitchen wet waste was composted, left over cooked food if any would go to cows/cats/dogs/birds/squirrels, milk packet washed water would go as a water feed to birds, water used to wash veggies/rice/daal would go to plants. By now, I almost cut down my garbage bin collection volume to 1/3rd. Composted soil was given to plants in the park, indoor and balcony plants. These measures brought me so much satisfaction and encouraged me to step further to reduce the waste from another area, the toiletry plastic packaging material. Emphasis on cutting down the packaged toiletries made me explore home made options like sandalwood powder + green gram flour bathing powder, shikakai+amla powder for hair wash. I was yet to explore such solutions for the entire family so many common product packages like tooth paste, bathroom floor cleaners etc were still reaching the bin. Least I could do about it was to reduce the usage of these products - it not only reduces the package waste, but also does not harm the fertility of the soil as much as the concentrated one does when it gets into drain.
In this process, I realized there is a lot of scope for managing used clothes. Earlier I would donate clothes to the same set of people around me and I some how started feeling that they do not appreciate such donation. It was more of a formality for them to take it. I felt that this is not an option any more! I segregated all the clothes into -
- Good clothes and not in use - these are usually the ones which are left because kids or we have either out grown or too loose and cant be worn any more
- Good fabric but unexpected stains - kids love painting and many a time they end up with colorful stains on their clothes. Ink marks, turmeric/vermilion stains, mixed washing of clothes are few other reasons for unexpected stains on clothes whose fabric life span has not ended yet
- Cloth worn enough - I am sure we all have some clothes which we wear all the time and can never be done with them.
After segregation, I made few attempts to reuse by visiting tailors. When I went to tailor it was difficult to get something stitched which is not their usual area of work. If I have to get few carry bags done with cloth worn enough, it was difficult to negotiate a price with them. They say that they stitch a sari blouse in 40 mins and we will charge the same amount for your simple carry bag besides they would usually deny such work due to lack of interest as it is not their core skill. This was a major road block to reuse fabric after re-design.
With all these experiences, a Facebook page was started during the lockdown to share few experiments with a sewing machine at home and it gained a good response. Few experiments done by followers were also shared.
Letters with rags stuffing reflects our studio's spirit so well. Smallest chunks of scraps are used as stuffing and this beautiful workshop decor was made.
Bharathi Reddy, my grand mother is the inspiration behind this project. Born in 1940, she learnt tailoring in 1965 to look forward to something besides being a home maker.
Attached are some of the extracts from her tailoring notes.
She was a topper in this 1 year course held by govt and was offered to be a trainer for the forth coming batches. She could not consider the offer because of her travel constraints but I feel she continued to inspire me with that beautiful skill of giving life to any cloth.
Many of her ideas reflect in our experiments.
Bharati also reflects my love for our country!
How I wish 'Happy Birthday' hangings are also made of fabric scraps thus replacing the not-so-environment-friendly material made products