Turning waste into wealth: This Pune woman upcycles scrap material to make beautiful home decor items

by salil123
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Pune: What do you do with the empty coke bottles, or a scratched up and unusable teflon-coated pan? Throw away? Now think twice before you do that because these items can actually be upcycled to make beautiful home decor items.
Born and raised in Kolkata Simran Luthra, but now a Puneite by heart, has started the Green Art Project (The G.A.P) – an initiative that supports the concept of a circular economy.

Simran holds a Masters in English from Jadavpur University and Masters in education from Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) Mumbai. An educator and writer by profession Simran is also passionate about gender, homeschooling, and sustainable living.

Simran creates upcycled products, which is basically creating material out of waste, curates products that are sustainable, and advocate actions that are urgently required to counter further environmental degradation. Her vision is to popularize zero-waste lifestyle and sustainable gifting. Here’s what she has to say about her project.

Upcycled Pan

Upcycled Pan

Q. Tell us about The Green Art Project

Simran: The Green Art Project (The G.A.P) is an initiative that supports the concept of a circular economy. We create upcycled products, which is basically creating material out of waste, curate products that are sustainable, and advocate actions that are urgently required to counter further environmental degradation. Our vision is to popularize zero-waste lifestyle and sustainable gifting.

Upcycled product by GAP

Upcycled product by GAP

Q. What was the idea/vision behind starting this? Any inspiration?

Simran: I have been trying to incorporate zero waste tips into my own lifestyle for a while; small things like avoiding paper towels in the kitchen, learning how to compost and making natural home cleaners.

I also learnt about some amazing zero waste activists who generate only a few grams of waste a year. That was extremely inspiring for me. I took that up as a challenge and that’s when I started thinking of upcycling. Of course I am nowhere close, but I strongly resonate with the idea that everyone pursuing zero-waste imperfectly can also have a great impact on the environment.

I also practise Nichiren Buddhism, and our mentor Daisaku Ikeda strongly advocates a circular economy, which is the opposite of the make-use-dispose linear economy we currently have and focuses on extracting the maximum value from things while they are in use and on reusing them to extend their usage and eliminate waste as much as possible.

Upcycled product by GAP

Upcycled product by GAP

Q. How do you collect material for up-cycling?

Simran: As of now the G.A.P is at a small scale and friends and family are being kind enough to keep aside trash for the project.

Q. How are you selling these products? Online/offline or both?

Simran: Yes, we have a presence on FaceBook and Instagram and are available both online and offline. A lot of people are asking if we make customized products and we absolutely take such requests as well. You can follow and support us at @thegreenartproject on FaceBook and Instagram.

Upcycled product by GAP

Upcycled product by GAP

Q. How is the response received so far?

Simran: The response has been extremely encouraging. We put up a stall at a pop-up organized by Loca Salon in Kalyani Nagar on the Valentine’s Day weekend and people were extremely appreciative of the upcycled products. While there are a lot of people who are still not familiar, or look down upon old stuff being used for art or reuse, that is exactly the mentality we wish to challenge and change.

Q. What is the price range for these products?

Simran: The price ranges from INR 50 to 3000, depending on the item.

Q. Are these products available across India or only in Pune?

Simran: Yes, our products are available for shipping across India with additional shipping charges.

Green Art Project

Green Art Project

Q. What are your future plans in terms of creating awareness about upcycling and reusing old stuff?

Simran: The plan is to expand our range of items of upcycled products and accessories. We’re also planning on creating a range of personal and home care products which are absolutely safe for our skin and bodies and also don’t pollute the soil and water.

Q. What message would you like to give to our readers?

Simran: I read somewhere that when we say ‘Throw this thing away’, it doesn’t mean that the thing magically disappears. There is no ‘away’. That ‘away’ is actually the earth and its water bodies. So much of what we throw away ends up in landfills and the toxic chemicals from our waste enters the water bodies and soil and is leading to the poisoning of the water we drink and food we eat. Segregating our waste, giving it for recycling, and buying products with thought and care is the least we can do as responsible residents of the planet.

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