For the longest time MESH had to do any design work long distance from the MESH office in Delhi. Covid restirictions prevented us from travelling in 2020 and 2021 and then in 2022 we had two changes of designer. Now Aakanksha, our current designer, is in Bethany Leprosy Colony in S. India working with the members of Jone Priyarshini Mahila Mandal. a women's society in the colony. They will try their hand at any kind of work to earn for their families and this time they are working on an upcycling project using waste saris.
There are two women who are easily able to pick-up fabric cutting and four other women who are learning how to sew pouches, bags, bunting etc from sari pieces, off cuts and waste saris because we are seeing an increasing demand for products made from used or waste fabric and saris from our international customers.
Once we started thinking about using waste saris lots of different discussions happened; first of all the women all laughed and said they probably could keep production units going for some weeks just with their own old saris, and how happy their men folk would be if they cleared some cupboard space! This is S. India and almost all adult women wear saris and since a sari can be warn whether you are fat or thin, most saris last for years and years through pregnancies and all.
Then we spoke about the fact that these days old saris are often used to fence off bits of farm land. If a farmer is growing a batch of vegetables and he wants to keep beady eyes and hungry goats or buffaloes away he will tie brightly coloured old saris around the plot...low cost and highly effective.
A visiting eco artist told me that in quite remote African villages he had been surprised to see small round thatched houses draped with what he immediately recognised as Indian saris...and very fine they looked too!
And finally, I found myself sitting in a shared auto rickshaw opposite an older woman and there before my eyes was a peach coloured sari decorated with the prettiest flowers as lovely as those on the Taj Mahal. My first thought was "Oh that would make such a lovely gift-wrap!"
Watch this space! We hope to have some delightful new upcycled sari products for sale very soon.