Published: 15th November 2020
This Chennai start-up is turning trashed PET bottles into T-shirts. Here's how
According to the co-founder of Ecohike, Kathir, they require only 12 pet bottles to make one T-shirt which in turn reduced 250 grams of waste per T-shirt on the landfills
Whenever we attend weddings or any corporate events, we notice a huge amount of plastic PET bottles being discarded or even thrown around. All this waste ends up in landfills and takes hundreds of years to degrade. However, Kathir from Tirupur in Tamil Nadu converts these bottles into T-shirts. Yes! You heard right. A Kathir Esan, who is the Co-founder of Ecohike, says, "I have been doing this work for 15 years now. My friend Jay and I started a company called Syndicate Impex in 2006. It is a garment manufacturing company. We were doing well in the market and our's was the first company to get CII-GREENCO certification. During this process of certification and auditing, we realised the amount of pollution that was inherent. That's when we decided to adopt sustainability in our business and began our research journey."
It took Jay and Kathir more than 15 months to experiment and research and hit upon the process of converting plastic bottles into T-shirts or garments. "When we were successful with our experiments, we launched our brand called Ecohike. Eco means environment and hike means improvement. We checked and analysed that converting these pet bottles into t-shirts can help us save 2,700 litres of water during the manufacturing process. We can also reduce the CO2 emission by 3 kg. We require 12 PET bottles to make one T-shirt which means we will be reducing 250 gms of waste per shirt on the landfill," explains Kathir.
It doesn't mean that they are compromising on the quality. The only drawback is that the colour of the T-shirt is restricted to being white. He says, "We don't like to change the wardrobe of people. Because everybody needs a white shirt in their wardrobe. We add value to the product so that it impacts the customers' mind and perspective. Even the price tag that we put on this T-shirt is made of cotton textile waste and organic seeds. Whenever this tag is thrown off in the soil or left in the water, it will grow into a plant. We even use a cotton bag which can be reused for other purposes."
Another cool thing is that the tee itself can be recycled. Kathir says, "What we have done is we are using the spun yarn that releases very little microfiber in the water. Aside from this, the raw materials used in manufacturing this T-shirt can be recycled again. Hence, we encourage our customers to return the T-shirt when they're done for which we will give them a coupon for their next purchase."
Kathir and team are currently working with a European brand and they will be launching this T-shirt in Germany, France and other countries in the next financial year. Aside from this, he is collaborating with the multinational companies across the state to distribute them. However, before that, they aim to spread awareness about climate change and what we can do to save the Earth. For this, the team has come up with a video on the theme Earth versus World which is up on their website ecohike.in. "None of us need to save the Earth, the planet will save itself. It is time to save ourselves. That is what we are conveying through this video. It might take 1,000 years for the Earth to come back to its original shape but it will happen in the natural course of time," concludes Kathir.