Placeholder canvas
Igniting Ideas For impact

Embarking on a transformative journey through six chapters, we traverse India's landscape, exploring pioneering startups and their revolutionary...

7 months

Stuck With Old Jeans? Mumbai Woman Stopped 2,500 Pairs from Ending up in Landfills

"It takes 946 liters of water to grow enough cotton to make one pair of jeans. So every time you throw away your old denims, you not only add to the toxic landfills but also waste that much water."

Stuck With Old Jeans? Mumbai Woman Stopped 2,500 Pairs from Ending up in Landfills

A pair of jeans is not a usual piece of garment, but a tale of history and human intelligence.

Made of cotton corduroy, also known as denim, the creation of jeans was driven by utility 146 years ago. Till today, it continues to redefine fashion on the scales of comfort, sturdiness, and style.

For me, and I believe for many, a perfectly-fitted pair is sacred, to part with it is nearly impossible. Some of mine have made the journey from full-length to shorts, in pursuit of being relevant with the times. Yet, after a point in time, they had to be thrown into the bin.

But, this Mumbai-based entrepreneur is making sure that these pairs of jeans have another shot at life!

Photo Source: Soumya Kappagantu/Facebook

“If you have a good pair of jeans, you would part with it only because you outgrew it or are bored with the trend; but seldom because it is worn beyond repair. The sturdiness of jeans is one of its most important qualities,” says Soumya Annapurna Kalluri, while speaking with The Better India.

To utilise the benefits of denim fabric, while reducing the burden of waste, she has been rescuing old jeans from landfills to create upcycled bags and other utility items through her startup, Dwij.

Essentially meaning, ‘a new lease of life’, Dwij has upcycled more than 2,500 post-consumer jeans and 500 meters of post-industrial denim in the one year of its establishment.

Photo Source: dwij products/Facebook

“It takes 946 liters of water to grow enough cotton to make a pair of jeans, and 42 liters more to achieve the faded texture. So every time you throw away a pair, you not only add to the toxic landfills but also waste that much water,” says Soumya.

This was one of the many facts that inspired the erstwhile mechanical engineer to leave her cushy job and start the social enterprise in 2018.

Living her sustainable dream

Becoming an entrepreneur was always a dream for this 27-year-old. However, it took a backseat in the initial years of her career.

Photo Source: dwij products/Facebook

After completing her engineering education from Pune University, Soumya moved to Germany to pursue her masters, with a focus on sustainability. After working there for a year, she headed back to India and joined Godrej’s Innovation and Design Centre as a researcher, with a focus on the material analysis of industrial waste.

“When in Germany, I was under the illusion that all that goes into a bin is sustainably cared for. I was unaware of its journey into the landfills and how it adversely affected the environment. The illusion persisted mostly, because in countries like Germany, most reusable materials are sent to the developing countries as aids. Its eventual fate was unknown. But after returning to India and researching into this, I realised the abyss it had created, especially in the textile industry. The concept of recycling, although existent, was not being used to its potential, and that’s when I decided to step in,” she says.

Soumya adds that as the aim was to create utility products, the focus automatically fell on using denim for its durability, as compared to other fabrics.

Photo Source: dwij products/Facebook

“Most people are still skeptical about upcycled products because they are previously used. So, instead of creating pieces to wear, we designed products that you can carry, like bags, which are both fashionable and useful,” she states.

Check out Dwij’s range of upcycled bags made from jeans on The Better India Shop.

With an initial investment of Rs 6 lakh and the unflinching support of her family, Soumya has successfully established a bootstrapped Dwij and hopes to find investors in the future.

The process

With a team of five members, which includes tailors and cutters, Dwij upcycles jeans in three basic stages.

In the first stage, the collection is sent to Panipat to be segregated, based on quality. From first to even the third-grade jeans material that usually goes to the landfills is utilised.

“To avoid them from going to waste, we source the third-grade material from Mumbai’s denim traders at a rate of Rs 20 per kilogram and then upcycle them,” she adds.

Once the sourcing of the material is complete, the jeans are industrially cleaned to ensure their hygiene as good virgin material.

This is followed by the third step of cutting and tailoring the material as per the designs.

Soumya points out that the unique feature of their products is their exclusivity. “No two products look identical, whether in colour or texture, since we design them as per the sourced material which is never identical. Also, the smallest shreds are used to make jewellery to ensure zero wastage,” she says.

The average time taken to create a piece is almost a week, says the entrepreneur.

Photo Source: Soumya Kappagantu/Facebook

Owing to the rigorous procedure, in the past one year, Dwij has been able to sell almost 3,000 upcycled products. Currently selling bags, Dwij plans to expand to create other utility products like school supplies and yoga mats.

Check out Dwij’s range of upcycled bags made from jeans on The Better India Shop.

“Who said fashion can’t be feasible and environmentally sustainable? Hopefully, with efforts like this, we will change the scenario and the common perspective that second-hand is bad and useless. In an era of fast-paced fashion, it is important to be responsible consumers, and I feel good to be one of the few to usher this in!” concludes Soumya, with pride.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

Like this story? Or have something to share?
Write to us:
Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter

This story made me

  • feel inspired icon
  • more aware icon
  • better informative icon
  • do something icon

Tell Us More

We bring stories straight from the heart of India, to inspire millions and create a wave of impact. Our positive movement is growing bigger everyday, and we would love for you to join it.

Please contribute whatever you can, every little penny helps our team in bringing you more stories that support dreams and spread hope.

Support the biggest positivity movement section image Support the biggest positivity movement section image


See All
Sign in to get free benefits
  • Get positive stories daily on email
  • Join our community of positive ambassadors
  • Become a part of the positive movement