Rag Pickers in Delhi are a community of people that are the weakest and poorest in their society.
Many of them have limited access to education and health benefits.

Yet, thanks to Anita Ahuja, whose pioneering work transforms used materials into trendy textiles, these people are given hope. The people she supports are able to send their children to school and maintain a stable household.

Born of a desire to reduce India’s mountain of waste, improve energy efficiency and help some of Delhi’s poorest out of the city’s slums, Anita set up Conserve, a non profit, Fair Trade organisation in 1998.

The Conserve team reclaim plastic bags and other unwanted materials left on Delhi`s streets and deliver this waste to her workshops, where it is sorted and hand washed with detoxicated cleaning detergent.
Together with a team of traditional tailors, the Conserve staff cut and sew the non woven fabrics they create, producing fabulous fashion accessories.

Conserve started as a fledgling recycling project but quickly adapted to confront the biggest challenge it was facing – what to do with the thousands of plastic bags that could not be composted or recycled locally.
Upcycling by washing, drying, and pressing the bags into sheets led to Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP) being born and designs for handbags, shoulder bags, wallets, shoes and belts quickly came flooding in.
The challenge was obvious: use high fashion to support better lives for the poorest and a cleaner environment for all.

Today, Conserve India employs and trains hundreds of people from Delhi’s most disadvantaged communities to clear their streets of the plague of plastic bag waste. Once the waste bags are turned into HRP products they are sold for profits which can be spent in those same communities on education and welfare programmes.

By buying a Conserve recycled bag, you not only get to be a trend setter with a beautiful, funky piece of high fashion – you will also be helping some of India’s poorest people, and its environment.

I`m proud to say that my business, THE FAIR TRADE STORE stocks a couple of Fair Trade recycled bags from this fabulous organisation – Paul

View Conserve India`s Flickr photostream

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