Our plastic weaving is carried out sustainably in India.
Providing employment while reviving ancient crafts
The durable plastic textiles are made entirely with discarded plastic bags by a cultural craft centre, Khamir in Kutch, Gujarat, providing employment to waste collectors, medium skilled weavers, home-based workers, senior citizens and prison inmates. With the help of this innovative plastic weaving initiative, Khamir educates their community about plastic waste while reviving traditional, family-run handloom weaving skills.
Approximately 1,00,000 plastic bags are consumed and discarded every day in Bhuj, the capital of Kutch alone. Household waste is collected in plastic bags and thrown into open bins and trash piles. This uncollected plastic accumulates on roads, trees and in rivers and is inadvertently consumed by cattle. The rest of it is burned every few days, releasing toxic fumes.
The process – from discarded plastic bags to a sturdy, colourful textile
Collecting - Khamir collects approximately 100 kilos of plastic waste a month from Bhangaar Wadas (waste collection points). This waste consists of plastic carry bags, wrappers and larger sheets used in agriculture.
Cleaning - The plastic is then washed, dried and segregated by colour and quantity.
Cutting - Clean plastic is cut into long strips by women from nearby villages. The open ends are glued together and the plastic yarn is wound into balls.
Weaving - Weaving is carried out in the homes of traditional and new weavers on pit and frame looms.
Ethical and Fair Trade production in Mumbai, India
The products are then sewn by a fair trade non-government organisation, C. C. Shroff Self-Help Centre in Mumbai whose main objective is to provide economic independence for and to harness the skills of underprivileged people through guidance, training, infrastructure and marketing.
Several of our products are made by Rajiben, a skilled weaver in Kutch.
Rajiben was born into a family of traditional weavers who dedicatedly practised the craft and passed on the skill to her when she was very young.
After her husband passed away at an early age, Rajiben started working as a labourer in a field to support her family. The eldest weaver in her village instead guided her to work as a weaver at Khamir. This was in 2010 when the NGO had just started the plastic weaving initiative. Rajiben, who is very talented and is always open to experimentation, was curious about this new material. She became one of the first weavers to switch from regular yarn to plastic and eventually managed the entire production process there.
Rajiben is now working independently under the guidance of Kaarigar Clinic, a start-up that helps rural artisans become independent and strengthen their business skills. Together they are transforming Rajiben's talent and enthusiasm into a sustainable craft business.
Théla is proud to make our woven products with Khamir and Rajiben. By doing so, we are diverting plastic waste from entering landfills and oceans, supporting rural artisans and helping them revive their traditional weaving skills.
Do take a look at our woven products here.