During my bachelor's degree, one of my specializations was Environmental Law. Looking back, I remember feeling a mix of frustration and anger at the realization that environmental loss and damage, which is often irreplaceable, was usually quantified in terms of monetary fines. I saw that suing polluting companies and governments for economic compensation was often the most we could do.
It was disheartening that the true impact of these environmental disasters, including their effects on local communities and the broader ecosystem, were rarely discussed in mainstream conversations.
As a sustainability enthusiast, I often found myself yearning for more tangible and impactful ways to make a difference. It was during one of my conversations with my friend and co-founder, Ashni, that EcoDhaga began to take shape. Ashni and I shared a common passion for fashion and sustainability and often wondered how we could make a difference in India's burgeoning waste problem.
According to industry estimates, more than 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away yearly, most of which come from household sources. Textiles make up about three per cent by weight of a household bin. It is also the third-largest source of municipal solid waste in India.
At the grassroots
We gained first-hand experience of the waste management challenges faced by local governments when we worked with the Vadodara Municipal Corporation on an educational event. This experience revealed several key takeaways for us.
One of the biggest challenges we observed was the lack of effective waste segregation in India, a complex issue beyond just separating wet and dry waste - more on this in later blogs.
Another significant issue we observed was the need for more awareness about the waste problem and its spillover effect among consumers and as well as stakeholders within the waste management sector.
We also noted a general lack of willingness to make a change. For instance, let's consider waste management practices in Japan. The local government there has implemented a stringent system where waste is not collected unless segregated into five different categories. This starkly contrasts with the prevailing attitudes toward waste management in India. Although we are only asked to segregate waste into wet and dry categories, many people still find it burdensome and make excuses for not doing so. Clearly, a change in attitude toward waste management was sorely needed.
When Ashni and I saw these problems, we felt we had to do something. With EcoDhaga, we wanted to create a reliable loop where individual fashion waste, which has potential, is salvaged and redirected away from the landfills.
The true cost of a garment
As a conscious consumer, it is crucial to recognize that each garment carries with it a hidden environmental footprint. For instance, did you know that a single cotton t-shirt can require up to 2,700 (or 1500) litres of water to be produced, while the production of your favourite pair of jeans can consume around 7,000 litres?
When we consider the significant amount of resources expended in the production of each garment, it becomes clear that throwing away these textiles without considering their true value perpetuates the cycle of wastefulness. By discarding these garments, we are essentially squandering the resources and efforts that went into their creation, contributing to the mounting problem of textile waste and exacerbating its environmental impact.
The EcoDhaga way
At EcoDhaga, we aim to elongate the lifespan of wearables in India by thrifting, upcycling, donating and recycling. And by thrifting, recycling, donating, and upcycling the fabric it receives from individuals, EcoDhaga is able to salvage and redirect fashion waste that would otherwise end up in our overflowing landfills.
We accept and collect clothing donations from consumers looking to declutter their wardrobes. The clothes are then subjected to strict quality and hygiene protocols to ensure no detail is neglected and no potential is lost.
A detailed sorting guideline and a step-by-step allocation process ensure that only the best and highest quality clothes reach their customers. The best clothes are listed on our online Thrift Store, and the remaining wearable ones are donated to NGOs. Clothes that cannot be worn anymore are recycled into innovative home products, packaging bags, and more.
If you share our passion for sustainability and want to make a positive impact on the environment and society, you can join in too! Start by decluttering your gently-loved clothes or shopping from our sustainable thrift store. Together, let's make a difference.