Artistic ecowarrior Pallavi Jain aims to collect thousands of second-hand t-shirts to upcycle them into something that will benefit the community, while also eliminating the use of plastic.
The 50-year-old poet and blogger who has won recognition for her sustainable garden in the past, as well as her creative ways of turning ‘old into gold’, is transforming tees into bags to be used in the Indian Community Relief Fund’s (ICRF) initiatives.
“Every year the non-profit organisation runs its Thirst Quencher campaign in the months of July and August, wherein members and volunteers go to different construction sites to donate water, laban and other things,” said the former chemistry assistant professor who lives in Saar with her husband Akshay, a managing director at a diagnostic firm. “They also educate workers on how to protect themselves from Bahrain’s scorching heat.
“In one of the events, I saw that most of the workers didn’t have bags or anything to carry the donated stuff. So I suggested to ICRF members that we could make no-stitch old t-shirt bags for them to carry their items. It would be better than giving them plastic bags. They liked the idea and now we are looking to collect around 5,000 t-shirts to turn into bags. I believe that even if every family donates one t-shirt, we will be able to meet our target.”
Many have answered Pallavi’s call on social media and she is holding a free bag-making workshop at her home today at 4pm.
“All you need is an old t-shirt in good condition, a pair of scissors and 10 minutes of your time,” she added. “Anyone aged seven and above can participate. I initiated this ‘no stitch t-shirt’ campaign a couple of years ago and had done several workshops online with freelance educator, researcher and self-taught artist Dr Anamica Bhattacharya. I’ve also participated in a ‘save soil’ campaign offline with some other groups, including the author of the beloved Baloo children books and former resident Dr Sarah Clark.
“I always believe in following the five ‘R’s of the environment which are: refuse, reuse, reduce, recycle and recreate ... and being an artist, I love to recreate.”
In 2020, Pallavi upcycled soft toys into garden art in a bid to raise funds for Sneha, the Indian Ladies Association’s recreation centre for children with special needs.
She also started recycling t-shirts after reading about the textile industry being among the biggest polluters.
“The textile industry uses 98 million tonnes of non-renewable sources a year,” she said. “Twenty-five per cent of the world’s chemicals are used for textile production and it contributes to 20 per cent of industrial water pollution. Landfills received 10.5m tonnes of textiles in 2015 and textile production uses around 93 billion cubic meters of water annually, representing four per cent of global freshwater withdrawal.
“I hope to create awareness of the need to save resources and protect the environment.”
Pallavi’s son Arihant, who is currently studying computer science at the University of California, San Diego, and her husband are proud of her eco-ways and hope others join the cause.
For details on the upcycle workshop and how to support, message her @bhoomi_our_land on Instagram.