Here in Bangalore people seem to drink a lot of juice, milk, lassi, moor–lots of things that come in Tetra Paks! Although it can be recycled in theory, or so I’ve read, it seems to be something that is rather difficult for people to recycle when compared to other items like paper or metal or glass or plastic. This is partially because it is made out of mixed waste as opposed to one product that can be easily broken down into other products. For example, TERI released a report a couple of years ago–in cahoots with Tetra Pak–stating that although there is some recycling happening in India and the region, because it’s too costly and time consuming to break the items down into their separate parts, most of the time paper mills that would otherwise recycle the cardboard components don’t. Saahas Zero Waste does collect Tetra Paks in a few locations around Bangalore, but they don’t provide you with any more information than that about what happens next.
Enter Anu Life (photos above) and Joy @ Work (photos below)!.These fabulous organisations provide jobs for women and an afterlife for Tetra Paks in their very usable and sturdy bags, purses, wallets, and pencil pouches. Both were created through the ingenuity of Devika Krishnan, an upcycler and inspirational Zero Waster. Her model is simple: provide raw materials and resources to teach women how to produce these bags to upcycle markets and then help them to earn a living doing so. It’s been a life line to many of the women she’s helped. I had the chance to visit both centres this summer and was amazed everything these women are achieving. There’s lots of other amazing stuff they’re upcycling, and importantly much of it is stuff usable rather than something that’s admired and then never touched again.
They are looking to expand their markets overseas so if you see anything you like please post a comment and I can put you in touch with them. Or you can just contact them directly via their Facebook page links above.
Also, check out this new upcycling studio in Auroville. It’s a bit more avant garde, and they’re not producing stuff that’s necessarily reusable, but it’s creative and inspiring nonetheless.