Published: 07th April 2021
This 15-year-old is upcycling fabric waste to create clothes for underprivileged children in Kolkata. Here's how and why
The 15-year-old entrepreneur says that their main goal is to bring a smile to the faces of all underprivileged children across the country. We find out more about his foundation
Approximately up to 25 per cent of fabric is lost during the garment cutting and making process anywhere in the world. Considering the country is a global hub for apparel production, the waste generated is massive. There is no proper estimation of the amount, however, what is known is that textile waste is the third-largest source of municipal solid waste in the country. Tanay Jain (15) from Kolkata saw this happening firsthand at his father's apparel factory. That's when the idea struck him to use waste fabric generated in these textile factories for something bigger and better. In 2018, Tanay along with his family and friends founded the Katran Foundation, which upcycles fabric waste to make clothes for underprivileged children. Not just this, the foundation provides employment to marginalised karigars (craftsmen) and weavers in Kolkata through their initiative.
Katran was set up by Tanay and three of his school friends — Raunak Seksaria, Pratham Madhogaria and Raunak Sarawgi — all Class 10 students from St James' School, with the help of his aunt Vandana Jain. "The amount of waste fabric that is generated can easily be upcycled and used to make new clothes for children. I wanted to give back to society and did not want the waste to end up in landfills and be a burden on the environment. My aunt is aware of the entire process and she helped us set up the organisation," shares Tanay. Soon after its inception, the word spread quickly and people wanted to donate to orphanages, NGOs and underprivileged children in their respective areas. "That's when we set up a Google form where people interested in donating old clothes could register through the Katran Foundation. For those who want to donate these upcycled garments to the children, the foundation charges `200 for stitching, delivery and all other expenses. People who want to distribute in larger quantities, such as in NGOs or orphanages, can also place bulk orders with us," explains the 15-year-old entrepreneur.
Until now, 3,500 metres of cloth have been upcycled at the foundation and they have donated 2,500 pieces of clothing to underprivileged children in Kolkata and some in Guwahati as well. The clothes are stitched by karigars and weavers from the suburbs of Kolkata, who come from economically backward families and have been out of work for quite some time. "We were actually shocked by the number of karigars looking for regular-paying jobs. Recently, the Coronavirus pandemic also took a heavy toll on their existing incomes and we hired more people to work for the benefit of children.
The 15-year-old entrepreneur says that their main goal is to bring a smile to the faces of all underprivileged children across the country. "We, at Katran, feel that each of us can contribute towards protecting the environment by upcycling fabric that would otherwise go to waste. It is important that we do so to preserve the environment," he adds. Currently, the team is working towards creating outreach for the foundation through social media and as for Tanay, he wants to pursue Economics going forward.