According to the CPCB report in 2017, it was estimated that around 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day in India.
Mumbai-based Atiya Rakyan takes your discarded plastic, processes it into fashionable tees, and gives it back to you thanks to her ingenious initiative that gets upcyling right.
All the world’s plastic! It is here, there, and everywhere — from straws to polybags, from tiffin boxes to soda bottles. But its negative effects on the environment cannot be discounted, and the world seems to be waking up to this reality.
Take, for instance, Atiya Rakyan’s endeavour. Being a committed proponent of sustainable living, she decided to follow an eco-friendly lifestyle. However, it was in 2017 that she came up with an innovative recycling initiative.
“I was in Nashik when I noticed large quantities of plastic bottles being treated as ‘garbage’. I spent the next two years in R&D to create fashionable apparel made of discarded, empty plastic juice bottles. The learning amassed in this process led to the launch of RawCycle, making them the best available alternatives to recycled waste,” Atiya shares.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report in 2017, it was estimated that around 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day in India. This means a per capita plastic consumption of nearly 11 kilograms — a large part of this includes bottles, wrappers, bags, and sachets. However, plastic bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are completely recyclable, although they are not biodegradable.
Atiya has already gathered 1.2 million bottles for recycling and she has recently launched her first apparel collection that is made up of 95 per cent recycled plastic polyester and 5 per cent Dri Fit spandex. She adds, “‘All good. No bad’ is the philosophy for a better planet. With this initiative, seven empty bottles get transformed into one t-shirt. These t-shirts are available in different styles.”
The gathered plastic bottles are first washed and then chopped into flakes, which are later melted, shaped into chips, and extruded into yarn. Yarn is then woven into fabric, dyed using eco-friendly processes, before the ocean-friendly t-shirt is finally ready.
Talking about the feedback she has received for this initiative, the 35-year-old expresses, “People are enjoying the fabric and the tee’s versatility. Our customers are wearing these t-shirts on a daily basis.”
“Fashion has always been close to my heart and making recycling and upcycling cool was a challenge I was looking forward to. The youth of today connects with sustainability and there is scope to make a unique identity for an initiative like ours because people are seeking and appreciating solutions that show responsibility towards the environment,” she adds.
“Garbage disposal is a huge problem in today’s plastic crisis and we find people often aren’t aware of alternative solutions to manage disposal better. We started with our 1,500 t-shirt capsule collection and apart from general consumers, many of our existing partner organisations showed keen interest to join hands with us. Google, Facebook, L&T, and even some schools have shown their interest in the project,” she said on a concluding note.