Upcycling at Scrapshala: Innovation and Crafting for Restoration and Preservation

Upcycling an innovation for preservation

By Aastha Aggarwal

In today’s environmentally conscious world, upcycling stands out as a shining ray of hope. It’s not just about repurposing the scrap but it is about fostering innovation and igniting creativity.

We at Scrapshala see upcycling as a transformative force for restoration and preservation as well as a means of creating beautiful products.

Scrapshala is a conscious Indian brand led by women that visions to create better life for people and planet through innovation from pre-existing material. We are achieving this by reviving traditional Indian handicraft in a sustainable manner using the approach of upcycling. In today’s world, seeing the high rate of consumption and discard, Scrapshala stands as a beacon of sustainability, offering a refreshing alternative to conventional consumerism.

Our commitment to upcycling goes beyond creating aesthetically pleasing products. We use a holistic approach towards the betterment of environment by breathing new life into 8-9 categories of discarded materials. By using pre-existing raw material, we are not only able to divert waste from going to landfills and rivers but also preserve traditional craftsmanship by employing local artisans.

India, a country with a rich and vibrant cultural heritage, and a rapidly expanding population, struggles every day with waste management and the enormous amount of waste produced at domestic and industrial level.

The urgency for upcycling is paramount in developing nations like ours. While struggling with these challenges, upcycling brings a quick, doable and innovative solution that will help us tackle the waste management problems with relatively lesser carbon footprints as compared to any other waste management solutions. We can alleviate the strain on our landfills, reduce environmental pollution, develop a unique impactful product line and promote sustainable consumption practices. Upcycling offers a pathway towards a cleaner and greener future for India.

The Benefits of Upcycling

Apart from contributing to our country's environmental sustainability, upcycling offers multiple benefits for all, makers, individuals and communities.

- Environmental Conservation

In the past few years, there has been a remarkable change in the way people perceive and utilize resources, they have a growing awareness about environmental conservation. According to a survey conducted by Nielsen in 2018, 81% of the community believes that it is in fact very important for companies to start implementing programs that would aid to better the environment, and the other 73% said they would either definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.
In a world accustomed to mass production and rapid consumption, upcycling will bring a fresh perspective. Upcycling encourages us to reevaluate our relationship with material possessions rather than perpetuating the waste generation cycle. We reduce the need for newer resources and reduce the burden on landfills by giving old things a new purpose for a long period of time.

- Celebrating Craftsmanship and Supporting the Handicraft Industry

Over 70 lakh artisans, primarily from rural and remote areas, are employed by nearly 4,000 traditional handicrafts and handloom clusters across India. Additionally, India is a major exporter of handicrafts. The industry generated approximately INR 35,000 crore in foreign exchange revenue in 2021.

The 2019-20 All India Handloom Census reveals that, despite their contribution to the rural economy and export basket, 66% of handloom weavers earn less than INR 5,000 per month. Imagine, these artists work hard day and night to fulfill their family’s needs and there are people who still squeeze margins from them and eat into their profits.
This is where organizations like Scrapshala come into play, we skill and employ local artisans from around the nation and give them the employment and respect they deserve. And conscious consumers like you contribute by choosing products made by these artisans helping them create a life they deserve.

- Resource Preservation

Natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate, with 90 billion natural resources being exhausted every year and a projected twofold increase by 2050. 7 million people die annually as a result of the overexploitation of natural resources, which also contributes to a 58-67% decline in the global animal population, soil degradation, and an increase in air pollution as a result of deforestation. If things continue going as they are, then we all can clearly know what the future is.

EarthDay: The link between colonialism and over-exploitation of natural  resources
Upcycling offers a sustainable solution by breathing new life into old materials, thus reducing the demand of utilizing new natural resources and preventing further degradation of the environment.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, up to 80% of the environmental impact of a product is determined at the design stage. This is where initiatives and organizations like Scrapshala come in, where adoption of upcycling practices help combat the adverse effects of resource depletion and environmental degradation through an innovative and experimental products.

- Unique Conversation-starting Products

Upcycling, with its emphasis on individuality and uniqueness, provides a creative solution in a world saturated with mass-produced goods. Each item that has been upcycled is a one-of-a-kind creation because it has the marks of its previous life and the skill of its maker. Upcycled items, in contrast to mass-produced goods that lack character and soul, tell a story, elicit a sense of nostalgia, and are authentic.
Upcycled products, whether handcrafted furniture or quirky home decor, add character and charm to any space, make a statement, and reduce your carbon footprint on the environment.

- Community Engagement and Social Impact

We at Scrapshala believe in the transformative power of community and collective action. Through our upcycling initiatives, we not only create sustainable products but also promote community engagement and social cohesion. By involving local artisans and craftsmen in our projects, we empower them economically and socially, educating them about market trends and providing them with opportunities of skill development and financial stability.
Moreover, our DIY and educative workshops and events on upcycling encourage community participation by bringing attention to environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices. One can join our workshops either as a volunteer or as a participant.

How can you start upcycling?

Step 1: Assess your possessions

Take a day off from your daily routine, brew yourself a hot cup of coffee or tea and just have a look around your home especially the store room. Assess your surroundings and look for items that are no longer in use or have lost their purpose. This could include old furniture, clothing, accessories, or household items.
The Slow Journey From Junk Room To Playroom | Young House Love
Step 2: Research upcycling ideas

Explore the wealth of resources available online to discover new and unique upcycling ideas with basic doable steps. You can check out tutorials on YouTube, read blogs of upcyclers from around the world or do a quick search on Google for a few inspirational ideas.
Upcycle Ideas That Are Also Easy Crafts for Kids
Step 3: Start with simple projects
Wear your creative hat and begin your upcycling journey with simple and manageable projects. For example, transform your old jeans into stylish garden planter or repurpose old glass bottles into planters by painting them in vibrant colors or use old egg cartons to make jewelry holders. The sky's the limit!

Fun Upcycling Ideas & Projects | Unorthoboxed
Step 4: Learn basic skills

But first, equip yourself with basic skills that will empower you to bring your upcycling ideas to life like painting, cutting, sewing, embroidery, carpentry etc. You can again take help from YouTube tutorials or join workshops in and around your city.

Step 5: Join communities

Connect with like-minded people by joining upcycling communities and forums. Engage in discussions, share your projects, seek advice and inspiration from fellow upcyclers.

Step 6: Embrace creativity

Most importantly, embrace your creativity and let your imagination soar. Upcycling is a journey of self-exploration and so don’t shy away from thinking out of the box and experiment with unconventional ideas. Let your creativity be your guide on this upcycling journey!

As individuals, you have the power to make a difference in this world through your choices. By embracing upcycled items and integrating sustainable practices into your regular routines, we can all in all drive positive change and add to a better and healthy future.
Join us in our mission to transform waste into wonders and create a world where sustainability and style go hand in hand. Together, we can make a meaningful impact and leave a legacy of conservation and preservation for future generations to inherit.


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