On our recent trip to Dastkar, we discovered many gems and one that really stuck with us was a venture called 'Use Me'. It’s hard to imagine that it’s been around since 2011, working silently in the background to turn waste from factories, boutiques, households and offices into useful products.
Apart from working closely with around 30 women from the neighbourhood to turn trash into treasure, Meenakshi, the upcycling wizard and founder of Use Me, also organises workshops to spread the word about how to achieve a zero-waste lifestyle. They also arrange green parties with 100 per cent upcycled furniture and decor, and organise awareness workshops on how people can reuse to reduce their carbon footprint and even upcycle stuff they have no use for.
Basically, every kind of plastic, cloth or furniture waste can be transformed into decor, accessories and party props. So far, Meenakshi and her elves have lovingly restored a client’s nani’s stool into a new avatar. They’ve turned old saris into rugs, cushion covers and more. Jeans have been transformed into bags, cloth rejects have translated into buntings, dreamcatchers and so on.
Drop by at their factory outside Dastkar Nature Bazaar in Chattarpur for a look-see-walk-around. This will give you insight into how they work as a team, and if you catch them in a rare, free moment, they might even tell you how you could reduce and reuse at home.
A simple jhola bag, upcycled from an old piece of clothing, starts at INR 50 and can go up to 500 if it’s got too many zips, designs and fun stuff. Similarly, a rug from an old sari can be anything from INR 1,500, while cushion covers from this can cost as little as INR 200. Isn’t that wonderful?