Bridging the city’s green gap

NGO Swechha sets up shop in Bandra to sell recycled beauties

In the heart of Bandra, the fashion district of Mumbai, a recycle revolution has been quietly taking roots for the last six months in the form of the store Green the Gap.

It is, however, not just a colourful shopping destination where waste is upcycled into impressive products but a place where consumers are "empowered to make choices".

The store sells everything from Ts, bags and wallets to home accessories such as coasters and stationery.

A close look at some of the products reveals use of tetra packs of Real or Nestle, but the logos are beautifully camouflaged in the design on the cloth Green the Gap buys from waste depots.

After Delhi, the store run by NGO Swechha is spreading the message of recycle and reuse in Mumbai from near Bandra's popular hangout Toto's Garage.

Swechha has been working for the last ten years to raise awareness about environmental issues and provide employment with reasonable wages to disadvantaged people.

"We have about 15 tailors. Including volunteers, we are about 30 people," said Vimlendu Jha, a post-graduate from Tata Institute of Social Sciences who founded Green the Gap and Swechha. Jha, who designs most of the products sold by Green the Gap, says many items had names of volunteers and those working behind the scenes.

The store website that urges consumers to "Help trash turn over a new leaf" displays products such as Amrita purse, Sahiba bag, Raju wallet and Didi P clutch.

For those who suffer guilt pangs for using leather, Green the Gap offers bags, wallets, ashtrays and hip flasks made of recycled tyre rubber.

The people behind the eco-friendly store believe for developing countries, recycling waste is economically more viable than installing incinerators.

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