Formerly called Green the Gap, Swechha is a Delhi-based social organisation which aims to inspire, create and support – a just, equitable and sustainable society, for everyone and forever. Swechha Store is the fair trade arm of Swechha and its journey began in the year 2009; it has been extracting the best out of waste since.
Vimlendu Jha, is the face behind the enterprise and has even shot a documentary called ‘Disposable’ based on the unacknowledged but extremely pressing issue of urban waste and its blind disposal in the already overflowing landfills of Delhi.
There is a section of our very own society that is doing the job of sorting the waste created by us. Despite being the real environmentalists, the presence and efforts of rag pickers and waste collectors are neither recognised nor awarded.
So, the numerous tetrapaks, potato chip packets, milk packets and cans, and the like, that we dispose off every day without a second thought actually end up polluting not just the air, water and land but also the lives of these people and their communities.
So the question – “Could there be more to waste than just the landfill?” – led to the beginning of ‘Green the Gap’ and then subsequently Swechha.
Swechha does not directly extract the waste out of landfills. But instead this organisation works in close connection with waste collectors and scrap dealers across the city to assimilate waste and then goes on to upcycle it in an as creative way as possible. “We use tyre tubes, juice cartons, milk packets, beer cans, potato chip packets and almost everything that has been thrown away to give it a new life in the form of accessories, stationary and items of home décor. Practically every single found thing is capitalised upon and used,” they say.
Swechha wants to offer solutions to the problems of urban waste, urban poverty and citizen apathy towards the environment by upcycling, i.e. turning a discarded item into a new product that is both innovative in design and utility.
Creating employment for people from marginalised sections of society, by engaging them in production, sales and other operational aspects is also what Swechha gives full importance to.
Positively influencing the consumer mindset by propagating environment-friendly consumption has always been the key aim of Swechha. After being procured from the streets of places like Govindpuri, Seelampur and Sadar Bazaar in Old Delhi, the waste travels through the hands of the magical ‘karigars’ of Swechha to get reincarnated as bags, wallets, jewellery, clothing, articles of home décor and accessories, and countless other useful items.
The Swechha Store is committed to trading fairly. The idea is to reuse waste to create aesthetically appealing, high-utility and good quality products while being determined to ensure the creation of employment opportunities for the down and out, and provide good working conditions to bring out the best in them.
Swechha provides full-time jobs for tailors and other craftsmen from disadvantaged backgrounds in their workshop in Delhi. This organisation increases the number of craftspeople they employ commensurate with the increase in their sales. Swechha also provides vocational training and employment to women from underprivileged backgrounds.
Swechha provides clear and transparent information about what it does on its website. It welcomes visitors to their premises with their questions and feedback.
This organisation that has the good of planet Earth uppermost at heart produces annual reports that are available to all stakeholders and the general public (online). It also ensures that all employees are able to make suggestions and voice their opinions, both on working practices and decision-making.
One of Swechha’s workshop functions from the ground floor of their office in Khirkee, Pune. Oh, and by the way, Swechha even has an ‘upcycled office’. Watch the very interesting video on their website given below.
Text Compiled By Mala Bajaj