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Aarohana Eco Social Developments

Products: Upcycled plastic

Leaving the corporate life behind Amita and Nandan met as a part of a trekking group to Harishchandragad, a hill fort in the Western Ghats (Maharashtra). The nature lovers were shocked and disturbed by the number of plastic bags dotting the country’s once-pristine mountain trails creating a tremendous eyesore and causing great damage to the plant and animal life there. Before deciding to become agents of change, Nandan was working at Sony, while Amita was with KPIT Cummins. It was during her time there that Amita realised that she truly wanted to do environment-related work. She quit her job to take a course in sustainability from Purdue University. Soon after, she reconnected with Nandan, and the two started AarohanaEcosocial. Aarohana did not start off weaving plastic. In fact, for the first two years, the duo travelled around India, learning about the value of different forms of plastic. They also saw that people in rural India were lacking employment options outside agriculture, compared with the number of odd jobs mushrooming in cities and towns. Plastic products A tribal villager, part of AarohanaEcosocial's project Also Read This organisation is fighting climate change, saving wildlife and generating jobs for tribal pe... The co-founders decided to make two points their focus when setting up Aarohana’s plastic weaving in 2015. 

Unlike most companies, Aarohana takes pride in their manual and lack of technology and automation in manufacturing. The founders went to rural areas, and taught villagers the art of handweaving - an impressive feat, considering it is a craft that usually takes years of experience to master. “Weaving fabric is so much easier than weaving plastic where everything has to be done manually and takes time,” Amita says. One of their units is in the Western India union territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli where Amita is from. The duo set up a weaving unit in a tribal village there, employing about 13 people. The employees, mostly tribal women, live next door to the facility, which is located in a lush mango orchard. They’re all paid between Rs 6,000 and Rs 15,000 a month - a fixed amount that isn’t tied to the amount of work they do. “We are in a remote village that lacks access to alternate sources of livelihood. The locals depend only on monsoon-fed farming and can take only one crop each year due to their small landholding and lack of irrigation,” says Nandan. The social enterprise has tied up with NGOs who collect waste to source its bags. Waste plastic bags are first cleaned and. These are then manually cut into strips and rolled on a traditional. Aarohana’s unique designs are also dependent on whatever waste is available. Finally, a handloom is used to weave the plastic yarn into cloth. Once the plastic is spun and woven, it is sent to its Pune workshop, where product design and production happens. The cloth is stitched into various items including totes, cushion covers, and table mats. About 50 small plastic carry bags go into one Aarohana beach bag, and the founders estimate they have salvaged over 776,500 bags since August 2015.

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