Ashay Bhave (24) started ‘Thaely’, an ethical shoe brand, where shoes are handmade from a leather-like fabric he developed using plastic bags, bottles and rubber.
In 2017, an idea took root in the mind of Ashay Bhave (24), who was then still a student pursuing his bachelor’s degree in business administration. He thought of converting plastic bags and bottles into shoes as a personal design project to develop sneakers in an ethical way.
His website reads, “The aim of the exercise was to find a solution to the problem of the 100 billion plastic bags used each year that use 12 million barrels of oil and kill 100,000 marine animals annually.”
Ashay used the next two years to research and design a leather-like fabric from plastic waste. He then approached a local shoe repairer in Mumbai to create a rough prototype and check the practicality of using this newly-developed fabric in place of traditional leather.
“The test was successful and the finished prototype functioned and looked like a traditional leather sneaker,” it says on the website.
And so in 2021, Ashay launched his brand ‘Thaely’ which means plastic bag in Hindi.
The brand collects plastic from a waste management plant. After they are washed and sanitised, the bags are cut into sheets and fused with heat and pressure.
The brand recycles 10 plastic bags and 15 plastic bottles to make one pair of shoes, and each pair is priced starting from Rs 8,000. They’ve upcycled more than 50,000 plastic carry bags and 48,000 discarded plastic bottles to date.
And if that’s not enough, Thaely encourages their customers to return their used Thaely sneakers in exchange for a discount.
Apart from India, Ashay plans to expand his sales and focus on selling these shoes in foreign markets also — like Dubai, Europe, America and Australia.
Edited by Divya Sethu