Some Christmas cheer

The shops in our township are all stocked up. Christmas trees, streamers, twinkling lights and stars. Toys stacked outside the shops and Santa hats hanging at the windows, tempting passers-by to step inside. We haven’t been moving out of home unless necessary, so it was nice to see things looking sort of normal again.

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Pocket framed

A few weeks ago, for Shivaji Jayanti actually, one of our building helpers, Mangal, was looking for a child’s white shirt. Her 8-year old son had been selected for a dance that was going to be a part of the birth anniversary celebrations, and white shirt with white dhoti / pyjama was the costume specified.

Our neighbourhood Lokhandwala Foundation School’s uniform has a white shirt so getting one of the right size was not difficult. I just needed to ask around. The only problem was that the pocket of the shirt is customised, with the school name and logo. This wouldn’t look good in the dance, so we decided that the pocket had to come off. The seam ripper is a really useful tool to have, but it still took a while to take out the stitches without damaging the fabric. Now the shirt was just right for the dance, and Mangal was happy that she didn’t have to shell out a hundred bucks to buy a new one.

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Waste Management Diaries – 5 (Footwear)

In our childhood, the cobblers were kept really busy.  Each of us would have just a couple of slippers/ shoes. If our slipper straps tore or soles came off, we’d need to get them fixed to prolong their use. We’d even get our shoes with worn out soles resoled to delay spending on a new pair.

These days, we find that people have many pairs of footwear and fewer people repair their footwear. They’d rather buy new pairs. This is one reason why the Indian footwear industry is expected to grow at a CAGR by 10-20% by 2020.

Despite being the second largest producer of footwear (after China), there are still many people in India who cannot afford decent footwear. So there is always someone to take the footwear we discard, either to wear as is, or to repair and use. The rest that can no longer be used as footwear, more often than not, land up in rubbish dumps and landfills.

At our society, Whispering Palms Xxclusives, I estimate that we collect over 2000 pairs of footwear a year. Volunteers and housekeeping staff periodically sort the footwear into those wearable and not. All are free to take any they want. We’ve had many housemaids, security guards, housekeeping staff, delivery boys, vendors and even residents pick up footwear, sometimes sparingly used or almost new.

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Looking at Upscaled Art on Environment Day

On this World Environment Day, thought of sharing some pieces of art created out of things that would have probably been trashed. “Upscaled” is what this is called today. They’re exceptional enough to have made it to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum in Copenhagen.

Made of used automobile parts, this futuristic robot was created by Simon Blades of Italy, inspired by The Terminator. It was fun trying to identify parts of vehicles that went into the assembling the robot’s anatomy.

terminator robot

The wedding dress looked elegant and dignified and I’d have been happy to have worn it some 22 years ago! It’s made of recycled trash including plastic bags, egg cartons, cotton balls and toilet tissue. Susan Lane of USA also makes bouquets out of trash.

Tissue dress

Despite the face being partly hidden in this pic, one can tell it is Abraham Lincoln. What makes it different from other statues is that it’s made of worn-out dollar bills that the US government threw in the trash. The Indian government has something to replicate here given that they have crores of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes with them.

Lincoln dollar bills

All those torn clothes we’ve thrown out surely had buttons on them. Where did they all go? This Button Woman statue was created by Irene Freidhof and her daughter Theresa of USA. It took them 960 hours over six months to assemble and has exactly 7,989 common clothing buttons.

Button woman

Almost everything we tend to throw away can have a new life somewhere. By saving them from landfills we’ll be doing a small bit in saving our environment. A little creativity is all we need.

Information gathered from the museum
Pics taken in Copenhagen, May 1 2018

A trouser transformed

What does one do with a 46″waist discarded/ donated trouser? Though in reasonably good condition, the chances of finding someone who could continue to use it as a trouser are slim.

With a bit of thought, a few snips and my sewing machine, I was able to use almost every bit of fabric to turn out four useful bags. Buttons, labels, zip, pockets – all retained. All that was left unusable was a small strip. Actually, I ran short of fabric for one strap, so I needed to use a cut-off bottom part of a checked shirt, salvaged from a tailor shop.

Trouser transformed
4 bags from 1 trouser

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Newspaper wrapper

My neighbour of the last few months recently returned from the USA, after visiting her son. I had met her only a few times before she went away, but my boys seem to have accompanied her in the lift a few times.

The other day, I answered the door bell only to find her standing with a newspaper clutched in her hand. “For the boys”, she said. “I’ve been wanting to give this ever since I got back, and today I remembered.”

The thoughtfulness of the chocolates she shared touched. And the newspaper wrapper that she used with no hesitation at all touched as much. If only more of us would do the same, and be accepting of such a practice.

It was good to also see that the wrapper of each of the individual chocolates was made of either paper or foil, and therefore recyclable. No metallised plastic or non-recyclable laminate, as we find with Cadbury’s and Nestle in India these days.

wrapped gift

chocs inside

Pretty as a picture

CapsToKeep, the bottle cap-driven reuse initiative, began as a hobby more than two years ago. Cap fridge magnets has been the main focus, but the diverse possibilities of the things that can go into the caps continues to make it a fun pastime. Of course, take away the magnet and the cap could well become a keychain or a bracelet or a part of a dangler.

Recently, a young lady who found us on Facebook placed an order for a photo dangler, for a special family. The only demand was that “it should be best!”. She mailed us the photos that we resized before printing, to fit in the caps. Everything else used to complete the product could well have been picked from a trash can… material from a tailor shop, formica board from an aluminium-frame door fabricator (the board goes inside the fabric sleeve to provide stiffness), chord that was unnecessary in the waist of a pair of shorts, used refil of a gel pen (yes, that’s the rod) and two beads left over from a craft assignment. A few rows of stitching, sawing the board to size, a bit of gluing, and hey… here is the result. When she picked it up today, “It is best! So pretty! They will be so happy.”, she said.

(Caps shown are representational)
(Caps shown are representational)

All the best Team India!


As the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 begins on 14th February, wishing our 15 Men in Blue all the very best. May the champion be INDIA!

Men in Blue
Our 15 Men in Blue – Dhoni Kohli Ashwin – Rahane Rohit Dhawan Jadeja – Rayadu Raina Binny Mohit – Patel Yadav Shami Bhuvneshwar

It took a fortnight to collect these lovable illustrations by Siddhant Jumde. Just the right size to fit into a cap, the pictures on these fridge magnets are cut from the Hindustan Times newspapers’ Page One Plus (except for three that were not featured on the first page). A Recycle-Reuse initiative by CapsToKeep.

Garbage burning and science

While clearing up one of the shelves at home, I stumbled upon my son Gautam’s “Composite Science” worksheet of Std 3, done in March 2011. After looking through it, I realised why I had saved it.

Q7 Give reasons – The gardener was burning garbage and my mother got angry with him.
Answer: The garbage could have been put in a compost pit and be made into manure. Continue reading

Team games are won by “teams”

Over the past month I’d been saving my newspapers for World Cup Football pictures that would otherwise be difficult to come by. This for my CapsToKeep fridge magnets – Brazil 2014 specials!

CapsToKeep fridge magnets
CapsToKeep fridge magnets

While flipping through the newspaper pile, I chanced upon the Hindustan Times (HT) 29th June 2014. This was just after the group matches, and carried a Football “Dream Team”. Continue reading