Indians generate 1, 00,000 metric tonnes on solid wastes on an everyday premise and this sum is greater than the combined solid waste produced by various other nations. While one might debate that the area-population and demographic ratio perspectives vary, it is high time that we stop living in denial and admit that we, as a nation, have failed in managing the insurmountable waste that is generated by the ever increasing population.
Many have realised the need of the hour and have pulled up their socks. They are working their best towards saving the environment and one such sensible citizen is Bengaluru Woman Shailaja Rangrajan, a resident of Bengaluru, Shailaja started off with her entrepreneurial venture Rimagined in 2016. The venture not just offers interesting and uber cool products in an array of categories like clothes, home décor, furniture and jewellery, it also provide employment to women from the underprivileged parts of the society. This not only helps in making the environment better but also gives a dignified source of income to these women.
How did it all start?
Bengaluru Woman Shailaja has worked as a business consultant in an IT firm for fifteen years until she came across the local residents actively practicing in-house composting and waste segregation. This sort of paved her way into volunteering at two NGOs, Whitefield Rising and then, Solid Waste Management (SWM) for around 3.5 years. Thinking of those days Shailaja was quoted saying, “This period was a great eye-opener for me, given the massive mounds of waste generated in Bengaluru Woman Shailaja on a daily basis. Looking at my little daughter, I often wondered what kind of world were we leaving for our children that was overflowing with garbage and extremely depleted of resources. During this volunteering period, I noticed that a large percentage of waste could be put to better use instead of being cast away to landfills. Recycling was an available alternative, but I felt that alone wasn’t enough.” By this time, she already knew people practicing upcycling but their way was quiet restrictive. Their customer base was limited to their friend circles and the ventures didn’t aim at making profit or money. Bengaluru Woman Shailaja then decided to take things in her own hand and spent the next 7-8 months in conducting highly extensive research on the process of upcycle. During this period, she also met people associated with waste management. All her research and expeditions ultimately resulted in her conceptualizing and giving birth to Rimagined.
She resigned from her job in April 2016 and put up Rimagined at an online marketplace with 60 products and 10 vendors. For gaining a better visibility and higher reach, she also started putting up stalls with the items at local events that were held in Bengaluru. Bengaluru Woman Shailaja says, ““The whole purpose of taking this forward was to drive upcycling as a movement rather than just selling products. Also, this was an opportunity to push for conscious consumption in an otherwise consumerism-driven population. Because our products were skillfully crafted with a trendy finish, it took our customers by complete surprise when they came to know these were upcycled products. The wow factor and word-of-mouth together helped in gradually taking Rimagined to greater heights”.
After seven months, Bengaluru Woman Shailaja went on to launch Rimagined as a label. Operating on a production unit of female artisans hailing from low-income families, Rimagined now aimed at providing these women sustainable livelihoods with the help of upcycling.
Restoring Underprivileged Women’s Faith in Themselves
Now, Bengaluru Woman Shailaja has a production unit in Kolkata with 45-50 women and 35 others are waiting for their training to begin. A team of 15 women are also going to start working as another production unit in Odisha. Through Bengaluru Woman Shailaja, so many highly talented women are proving that if they are served with the right opportunities, they can shine too. Women are rising from their financial problems and feeling empowered, independent and confident through their skills and capabilities empowered, independent and confident through their skills and capabilities.
Be a part of the awesomeness!
From perky tea coasters made out of vinyl record and motherboards to fancy tote bags created from textile wastes, denims and tetra packs, Bengaluru Woman Shailaja is going to surprise you with its huge range of upcycled products. The most amazing part is these items are not very costly as compared to other upcycled things in the market. So, anyone can buy these and do their bit for the environment and supporting these women with a cause. Every product displayed on their website also has an assigned score that is based on their content materials’ decomposition rates as well as its contribution to the overall waste.
As of now, the team has upcycled as many as 60-70 tones of wastes and Bengaluru Woman Shailaja is thriving with the hope to set upcycling as a movement across Indian and bringing back the traditional method of living that was practiced by our ancestors. And more than anything, the team works towards making the country capable of managing itswaste in a sustainable and creative way.
If you are living in Bengaluru and want to help Bengaluru Woman Shailaja in its noble endeavor, you can contribute e-waste, fabric waste, old denims, textiles , and any sort of segregated solid waste that can help in making super cool products.