Addressing Growing Land Pollution in Nepal by Upcycling

Revive Upcycle Nepal

During a class project, Pushpa and Rajan brainstormed an idea to use an old denim belonging to Pushpa, to create something useful that was laying to waste inside her wardrobe. Pushpa’s mother being a designer and having stitching knowledge, the duo utilized the knowledge and experience to create a sling bag from the unused denim. The first upcycled prototype turned out to be elegant, yet practical. 

Co-founder Pushpa Sthapit

The duo wanted to create something that could be used everyday using resources that were already there. Soon, they collected unused clothes from their friends and families to test their idea and were validated that something could be done on a larger scale. 

Co-founder Rajan Chakradhar

They started with the objective to upcycle (to recycle in such a way that the resulting product is of a higher value than the original item), recycle or reuse unused fabrics, to make something that customers needed and demanded that would have ended up in landfill, otherwise. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 10.2 million tonnes of textiles composed of clothing, footwear, sheets, and towels were dumped in landfills in 2017 while 2.9 million tonnes were incinerated. 40% of carbon emissions in the fashion industry comes from consumer use, mostly from washing jeans and disposing in landfill.

Their idea to solve the land pollution issue caused by improper disposal of clothing was unique and sustainable. This led them to win the 3rd Yunus Social Business Challenge. After this, they would start a company and name it Upcycle Nepal and create a brand, ‘Revive’, which literally means to bring or be brought back to life. 

Today, their product portfolio contains covers for electronic gadgets such as laptops, iPad and tablets, which ensures no scratch from friction against a surface. Upcycle Nepal also makes customized camera, laptop bags so that the size and fit matches the customers’ gadgets. Daily useful items such as keyrings, card holders, cushion covers, aprons, tote bags, sling bags and side bags are also made, all done from the upcycled fabrics collected. 

At first people were skeptical about using something made from an old cloth. But when they experienced Revive products in person, they felt comfortable enough to purchase it and valuably displayed it on social media. (You can donate your unused clothes to Upcycle Nepal, we are sure they will be able to make something unique for you.) They have upcycled more than 1000 pairs of denim jeans and collected 3 tonnes of clothes till date, a goal which they had set till the end of 2020. An incredible feat that must be noticed!

The ongoing lockdown to control Covid-19 spread has caused the team to postpone their new products’ launch. But the company has collaborated with various organizations to promote the concept of upcycling and DIY (Do it yourself) in Nepal. A cross-country face mask-making workshop between Taiwan and Nepal was conducted with instructors from Taiwan. Also, the  ‘Lockdown, Waste Down Contest’ had 154 entries on ‘Waste to DIY Contest’ and 17 entries on ‘Waste Management: Home Options Contest’ with exciting gifts from the sponsors. 

Fee Gilfeather, a sustainable fashion expert at charity Oxfam, says “How you dispose of the clothes at the end of their useful life is also important. Throwing them away so they end up in landfill or being incinerated simply leads to more emissions. We can all make a difference by being more thoughtful as consumers.”

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