Fashion forward: these startups turn waste into bags and clothing


  • In general, people throw away 60% of their clothes within a year.
  • The clothing industry consumes approximately 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the needs of 5 million people.
  • India spoke to startups like doodle and EcoKaari to dig deep into sustainable fashion in India.

Trends like today’s fast fashion have a dark side: more waste. Aside from the fact that people who buy more also throw away more, people generally throw away
60% of their clothes within a year.

If this trend continues, more than 150 million tons of clothing waste will clog landfills by 2050, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Shocked by the “fashion waste,” Delhi-based designer Kriti Tula co-founded a company called Doodlage that upgrades old clothes and calls it clothing remanufacturing.

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“Doodlage processes post-cut waste, defective pieces and end-of-line fabric, dead stock and recycled material. Remanufacturing saves the resources needed to create new fabrics. Given the enormous environmental costs of (mainly fast) fashion – from water-guzzling cotton crops to unsustainable levels of textile production – it could make a big difference,” Tula told India.

The clothing industry consumes approximately 93 billion cubic meters of water, enough to meet the needs of 5 million people.

However, recycling is only half of the problem solved, as fast fashion underlies it. Tula has an answer for that too.

“There are many ways to work with sustainable fashion. From traditional upcycling of used consumer waste to working with artisans to create slow fashion, you can choose your raw material and the right supply chain based on the market you are targeting,” said Tula.

In the first quarter of this year, Doodlage saved and reused 15,000 meters of fabric waste.

Waste to bags

Another fashion startup also wants to start using waste itself. Pune-based EcoKaari turns waste into its raw material and has many unique products such as bags made from Lays’ chip packets.

“EcoKaari is a social enterprise that has two goals: to protect the environment by recycling plastic waste and to provide livelihoods for artisans, mainly women and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Nandan Bhat, founder of EcoKaari, told India.

The startup brings sustainability to the material and process involved in making its handwoven products.

Fashion forward: these startups turn waste into bags and clothing

“From color separation of plastics to decontamination, our process is green because we use no heat, electricity or chemicals during the upcycling process with traditional
charkha and handicrafts. So this can be set up in any remote village, providing opportunities for disadvantaged people in an artisanal way,” says Bha.

In FY22, EcoKaari upcycled nearly 17 million plastic waste bags and wrappers, preventing them from ending up in landfills and the ocean. For the current fiscal year, it targets 47.5 lakh.

Easy to find

Purchasing these products is not that difficult according to these entrepreneurs. Ecokaari works with waste collecting organizations such as Poornam Ecovision and Sahas Zero Waste. They also receive plastic in the form of donations and also buy from waste collectors. They also collect gift wrap, crisps and cookie packets.

“As a production-based country, we have no shortage of fabric waste created in printing plants, fabric production units and clothing production units. We also source from merchants who clear up textile waste from many factories in an area,” says Tula.

Training and investments

This year, EcoKaari has set a target of generating revenue of ₹2.25 crore. “We are trying to increase our productivity by using modern clean equipment, training and skilled and expanding professionals,” said Bhat.

Organizations such as the Tata group and Dell have reached out to EcoKaari to source corporate gift products, Bhat said. The company also exports to countries such as Europe, Japan and the US, he added.

Tula also counts on increasing corporate interest in sustainability to grow her business. She says many of them have expressed an interest in conscious manufacturing for their in-house projects. Her company has collaborated with organizations such as PayU, Tata Cliq, Facebook, Apple Inc, and more.

“We also provide packaging solutions, create merchandise, do fashion shows — all to reach more people with the idea of ​​looking at alternatives and making them ambitious,” Tula said.


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