Have we ever thought where do the discarded products go post their use? The entire population on the planet generates waste. Have we discovered a second room in the universe to dump them? Definitely the leftover cannot disappear into space. Something needs to be done with it.

Major environmental concerns have already triggered conscious consumers and producers to act responsibly. With upcycling as a growing trend and opportunity, the discarded and leftover is no more regarded as waste. Managing waste has become as crucial as design intervention in product development. Upasana was initiated with the idea of fostering ethical clothes and has been working on waste management since beginning. At the time of least awareness about ethical fashion and waste management in India, Upasana emerged out preaching it as their business pivot. It has been a leading footmark for many. Uma, the founder of Upasana, talks about the position of upcycling trends in India and reveals the upcycling activities Upasana is exposed presently.

1. How do you look at upcycling when it is compared with recycling?
Uma – Recycling picks materials which are already used and tries to give them a second life. It can either be a downgraded version or an upgraded version of the original kind. But upcycling is a further step into value addition. It entails a lot of design input, processing intervention and finishing. Young designers have developed a creative taste towards it and are taking it as a profound subject. There are many designers working on upcycling not just in fashion but also across other domains of expression.

The velocity of Upcycling

2. What is the present state of upcycling trends in India?
Uma – I witness it picking up well and many organisations are welcoming it as their business discipline. Traditionally, the NGO and craft sector have lifted it up skillfully. Upcycling has now induced design and social concern into it. Organisations and people are expressing their social concern on waste management, recycling and upcycling through art installations in exhibitions. There are design inventions taking place to convert absolute trash like plastic into something usable. In India, the future of upcycling seems to be quite progressive and promising.

3. How is Upasana working on upcycling?
Uma – Upasana has been working on managing waste since almost fifteen years for now. We have always thought of existing as a zero waste company. We do not use plastic in our general packaging processes. Our packaging designed for shipments use least of non sustainable packaging material. We have a whole line of products built on upcycling created from leftover textiles. The noted project of Tsunamika uses up tiny bits and pieces of cloth produce millions of dolls.

“I feel proud being a part of Upasana that as an organisation our intervention in managing waste has been creative and very promising. This has instigated an integral business sense.”

4. Do you see any barriers restricting the successful amalgamation of upcycling schemes into mainstream fashion retail businesses?
Uma – Yes, I see there are some barriers. Upcycling is sometimes recognised only as an art expression. Therefore, a lot time user experience is not taken into account while designing products. At Upasana, we have crossed this barrier. Including practicality and utility, we take all the technical details of our product into account. Everything from composition to post-use is ensured to be environment friendly.