A public enterprise’s new initiative aims to support the Waghri community that has been an invisible warrior of India’s recycling movement
Women from the Waghri community segregate clothes from the collection
Indian environmentalists keep expressing their concern over the country’s lack of concrete recycling plans. Take for example, Deonar’s rag pickers who manage the municipal solid waste from across the city. Their contribution towards saving the environment falls under the unorganised sectors. Similarly, standing at the forefront of the battle against the massive waste produced by fast fashion is the Devipujak or the Waghri community. Bombay Recycling Concern (BRC), a social enterprise that promotes their livelihood prefers to address the community as ‘environment warriors’ for textiles.
“The community has been making a living by saving the environment for more than six decades,” Vinod Nindrojiya, co-founder of BRC, informs us. The Waghris work on the traditional barter trade system. They collect old or discarded clothes that have been worn a few times and exchange them for tubs or buckets. Then, they segregate, disinfect and clean the collected clothes. They even mend them, if required. These reusable clothes are sold to vyaparis (retailers), who sell to underprivileged sectors for a lower cost; as cheap as Rs 20 for jeans.
Since the pandemic, however, the community has been unable to continue their work efficiently. “Security guards in residential towers and redeveloped buildings don’t let them in unless they have approvals from residents. Their loud voice to announce their arrival does not reach high-rise apartments. Only three of their markets survive, and the one in Mulund may be cleared shortly, too,” Nindrojiya rues, adding that the livelihood of more than 3,000 Waghris is under threat.
BRC’s Kind Closet Campaign starting this week is an initiative towards safeguarding their livelihood and thereby, safeguarding one of the most effective ways of combating waste produced by the fashion industry. The campaign will arrange pick-ups for old, reusable clothes across the city, provided the quantity is around 10 kg. Lesser quantities can be dropped off at BMC drop centres or at the BRC stores in Versova or Bandra.
On: June 1 onwards; 11 am to 5pm
Log on to: insider.in (for booking), gobrc.in (for volunteering)
Cost: Rs 99
One piece of nylon cloth can last for 100 years. Any other material takes 40 years to decompose.