Many people may have seen threads being made from yarn on the spinning wheel, but have you seen the plastic rolling on the spinning wheel and making ‘fabric’ from it? Probably not! But, it has done amazing innovation by an organization in Pune, which is not only making ‘fabric’ out of plastic but also making various kinds of products from this ‘fabric’. The name of this organization is – Ikokari, started by 41-year-old Nandan Bhat. Through this, Nandan is not only working on ‘Plastic Waste Management’ but also employing many people.
Nandan Bhat, originally from Kashmir, has been living in Pune with his family for the past several years. Nandan says that he came to Pune in 2003 to pursue his MBA after his engineering degree. He liked the city in every way and decided to settle here. After his MBA degree, Nandan worked in good positions with big companies like Tata Telecom, Big Bazaar and Sony India for many years. He says, “I love tracking. But over the years, I began to notice that the tracking sites were being filled with plastic waste. I felt that there was a great need to work in this direction. ”
In 2013, he quit his job and started working in the field of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR). During this time, he got an opportunity to connect with organizations where the management of plastics was taking place. From there he got the idea that by ‘recycle’ the plastic bags, he can make different products from them. Says Nandan, “In 2015, I started an organization with one of my peers in the same field. We ran it for almost four years, but due to some reasons we had to close this organization. However, I did not give up and considered to pursue this concept alone. So whatever savings I had, I made a fresh start from that. ”
How do you work?
Nandan launched ‘Ecocari’ in September 2020. He explains that his organization collects polythene (single use plastic), plastic wrappers (bags) of chips, pulses, flour etc. and gift wrappers etc. They have different resources for collecting plastic. From whom he takes plastic bags from the garbage collectors. Apart from this, many families also send them plastic garbage collected in their homes. He also collects plastics from many corporate companies and junk workers.
Talking about this process, he explains that first of all, all the plastic bags are washed and cleaned. He does not depend on any machine for these tasks. After the bags are dried, they are separated based on color. Subsequently, these bags are cut into thin strips with scissors. After the strips are made, some artisans roll them on a spinning wheel. Subsequently, these are weaved into ‘fabric’ on handlooms.
With this ‘fabric’ he makes a variety of bags, covers, pouches, and home decor items. He says, “We have options ranging from pouches, purses, hand bags, travel bags, to electronic covers. People can buy according to their need. All our products are manufactured according to today’s fashion trends. Also, by purchasing these, you take a step towards environment. So try to buy only ‘upcycled’ or ‘recycled’ products. ”
Employment along with waste management:
Nandan says that he is blocking 1200 to 1500 plastic bags every day from reaching landfills or sources of water and piles of garbage. So far, he has recycle over 1.5 million plastic bags. Also, 22 people are getting employment by this work of theirs. He told, “Our effort is to connect more people with ourselves. But given the present situation of Corona across the country, we are not able to work on this plan. However, this year our effort is to increase the number of our artisans to 50. ”
Some people in his team do the work of clearing and separating the plastic. At the same time, some people are spinning on a spinning wheel. The rest of the artisans work in weaving and sewing. He sells about two thousand products every month. Nandan said that he is getting good response from customers. One of his clients from Delhi, Akanksha Raina, says, “Ecocari is a very unique and good initiative in the direction of a healthy environment. Also, it is also providing employment opportunities to the rural people. All their products are very beautiful and useful. ”
One of her clients from Mumbai, Sandhya Nair, says that by purchasing things from Ecocari, she is able to do little but little for the environment. Apart from India, they get orders from other countries as well. Nandan says that so far he has managed to connect with about six thousand customers and is earning around four lakh rupees per month.
He says, “Our aim is to take this initiative to a greater level.” At the moment, the hope is that conditions will improve and people can lead a normal life. In addition, the use of single-use plastics such as masks, PPE kits, etc. has increased due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Even when shopping, people are using polythene more, which is not right. If you are using a mask or PPE kit, then dispose of them correctly. Likewise, try to minimize the use of single-use polythene. Taken towards environmental protection, one of your steps can also prove to be beneficial. ”
Apart from this, he says that everyone should buy something from local businesses of their country. This will help local artisans and entrepreneurs and you will be able to contribute to the country’s economy.
Click here if you want to send plastic waste to your home or buy products made by EcoKari.