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Fashionably recycled

An Australian entrepreneur collaborates with an Indian NGO and turns CWG rubbish into fashionable items like designer bags, umbrellas and fancy footwear.

entertainment Updated: Oct 20, 2010 01:29 IST

While Delhi has bid the Commonwealth Games (CWG) goodbye, a few environmentally-conscious entrepreneurs are busy seeking to turn the waste discarded in the mega sporting event into useful things like designer bags, umbrellas and fancy footwear.

Australian sustainability professional Liz Franzmann is collaborating with Delhi-based NGO Conserve India to create daily-use handmade items by upcycling the waste produced in the Games. “We are hoping that the Games will help the people to see the environment in a new light and become more environmentally conscious,” said Franzman.

Typically, upcycling refers to the practice of taking disposable or discarded things and repurposing them into valuable, useful or aesthetically pleasing items. As opposed to recycling, upcycling does not devalue the price of the finished product.

Meanwhile, Franzmann’s journey to India began about three years ago, when she befriended Anita Ahuja, the founder of Conserve India, during a seminar at IIT Delhi. Since then, she has been working on a pilot project to identify and upcycle the waste produced by the Games.

“We hope to capture the positive legacy of the Games and turn the waste into valuable products. Anita and her team is already working with the city’s poor, helping them extract waste from Delhi’s landfills to create fashionable items, such as bags, footwear and stationery among others,” says the Australian.

A week before the Games began, they had secured their first waste haul in the form of promotional canvas and vinyl banners, sporting “Go India! Go for Gold”, which was turned into limited edition designer bags. Armed with a three-month grant from her government, Franzmann has worked with previous big events, like the Beijing Olympics and the World Cup in South Africa.

“There are many similarities that the Delhi Games had with other big international events. Major events like this produce a lot of waste material, including construction and demolition activities before the event,” she added.