Jul 25, 2023
The textile industry is responsible for nearly 10% of global carbon emissions and generates around 92 million tonnes of waste yearly, which often ends up in landfills.
India being home to one of the largest textile industries, accounts for approximately 7,793 kilotons, or about 8.5% of global textile waste generated every year.
AFP/ REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE
In the day of fast fashion, where a design that is the short-term trend sells like hotcakes and is thrown away as quickly as it becomes a rage, the waste generated by the textile industry is only set to increase.
Since the fabrics are made from a mixture of natural yarns, man-made filaments, plastics, and other materials, they are nearly impossible to recycle.
Only a fraction of what is being generated by the manufacturers themselves ever comes back to the system and is upcycled into value-added products like new clothes.
Tanay Jain, an 18-year-old from Kolkata, aims to end the textile waste problem by upcycling them into new clothes.
The teenager from a family of textile entrepreneurs says he has seen the wastage problem in the industry firsthand and wanted to do something to reduce it.
Starting in 2018, through the Katran Foundation, Jain and his team have been upcycling discarded textiles, providing them with a second lease of life.
Katran collects the textile scrap, which would otherwise end up in landfills, from Onaya Fashions and turns them into children's clothes.
"I was seeing a lot of textile scrap that was produced during the manufacturing of saree and lehenga ending up in landfills as they were too small to be used for a high-end product. We discussed how to reduce this waste and generate value out of them. And that is how we decided to upcycle them," Jain told Indiatimes.
Since then, Katran Foundation has upcycled an impressive 5,000 to 5,500 meters of cloth into brand-new dress items like Kurtis for underprivileged children.
"We were working with many NGOs and orphanages for various social initiatives and knew that there is a large section of underprivileged children whose parents could not afford to buy them new clothes. So we have been donating these upcycled dresses to them," Jain said.
The foundation has so far donated to around 40 non-profit organizations, reaching an estimated 4,500 to 6000 children in need across West Bengal, Assam, and Odisha.
"We generally make Kurtis for girls and kurtas for boys in the 4-11 age group," Jain said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Katran also turned some of the textile scraps into face masks, which were also distributed for free.
The initiative has also helped upskill marginalized artisans to create dresses for underprivileged children.
Jain has also been working towards creating awareness about sustainable fashion and upcycling through fundraiser debates involving students and other social media outreach programmes.
"It was during the pandemic that we started using social media as a tool to reach out to people, for both creating awareness about sustainable fashion and also spreading the word about our work. I even got the help of some of my classmates and friends who came on board to create the posts and also carry out the donation drives," he said.
Jain said they have received requests from other fashion houses as well to upcycle their textile scrap.
"This is not a problem that is limited to one fashion house, but an industrywide problem. Currently, we are not even able to upcycle all the textile scrap generated by our own fashion house. We have also received interest from other fashion houses, but what we are focusing on right now is to upcycle our own textile scrap. Once maybe we have more resources, we will be able to do it on a much larger scale and to work with others," he said.
According to Jain, awareness and actions should come from both the industry and the consumers to tackle the issue of textile wastage.
"Irrespective of which fashion house it is, the process is in such a way that the waste will be generated. So the industry should come together and look for solutions. When it comes to choices by consumers, I feel that at least our younger generation cares about how the products they buy are made and how sustainable they are. And sustainability and sustainable choices are the way forward," he said.
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