18 Aug Upcycling: Turning Trash Into Treasure
“Upcycling, also known as creative reuse, is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless, or unwanted products into new materials or products of better quality and environmental value.” At Nasheman, we try our best to minimize our carbon footprint and produce our garments in a way that isn’t harmful to the environment or society. We use a small range of fabrics and produce a limited number of pieces in each collection, that are hand-crafted using organic cotton and natural dyes. Textile waste is one of the largest challenges the industry faces, and is estimated to increase by 60% between 2015 and 2030. In order to combat this, we upcycle our waste in 4 different ways so that it doesn’t end up in landfills or pollute our rivers.
Burlap Sacks Into Totes
Boris, the Urdu term for ‘sacks’ are used to carry large quantities of rice, and are frequently disposed of after being used for a short period of time. These are made of burlap, a material that is composed of natural jute fibres. The plant-based, biodegradable material is very cheap to produce, but unlike other textiles, jute has a coarse texture that is difficult to cut or tear. We upcycle local boris through a traditional block-printing process (which takes 3 days), where the block-print is locked into the fabric with the use of cow manure. Once sealed, it is dyed using 100% organic dyes, then stitched into tote bags and home furnishings (such as cushions) by the female workers of Hunar Ghar Welfare Organisation in Baldia Town, Pakistan.
Trimmings Into Patchwork
A community of women in Sukkur, a city in the Pakistani province of Sindh, purchase textile waste from other artisans in their village to upcycle into fashionable accessories for Nasheman. The waste is generally made up of embroidery trimmings and once collected, they are stitched into handbags that are entirely hand-crafted from start to finish. The traditional technique followed here is called Ralli, where the stitches used to join two or more pieces of fabric together are hidden. The colorful craft can be found in most households throughout Sindh, and is usually used for quilts, home décor and apparel / accessories.
Ghost Nets Into Jewelry
Nasheman works with the Olive Ridley Project, an organisation that protects marine life in the Indian Ocean through the removal of ghost nets (more commonly known as fishing nets). If left in our seas, they would not only harm sea creatures, but also affect the ecosystem of fisheries and impact our shorelines. At Abdul Rehman Goth, a centuries-old fishing village locally known as “Bhuleji” is where we upcycle these ghost nets into colorful accessories that can be worn to enhance any outfit. We are also exploring ways to recycle the nets into nylon yarn that can be used to produce apparel in Pakistan.
Another ancient Pakistani technique that was developed to upcycle textile waste fibres into fabric is called Khaddar. This is when yarn waste that comes from the production of fabric weaving is collected, merged with virgin cotton threads in a weft and turned into a different kind of fabric altogether. It can take anywhere between 5 to 7 years to collect sufficient amounts of yarn waste that is required for upcycling it. We aim to incorporate this method in our Fall/Winter 2020 collection pieces to increase local awareness and usage of the technique in Pakistan.
We hope to continue staying true to our roots of only producing garments that are either organic or upcycled in some way.