For 93-year-old Madhukanta Bhatt from Hyderabad, sitting in the comforts of home post-retirement was never the goal.

Instead, for the past eight years, she wakes up at sharp 7:30 am, does her puja, eats her breakfast, and gets to work.

She has been relentlessly working to eliminate textile waste and the use of plastic from the earth by upcycling waste clothes into cloth bags.

She distributes these bags to people across Hyderabad for free. So far, she has made over 35,000 cloth bags from waste materials that would have otherwise ended up in landfills.

At the age of 18, Madhukanta moved to Hyderabad with her husband. To combat loneliness in a new city, she saved money and bought herself a sewing machine.

“I would save money by cutting expenses, and after some time, I was able to buy a Usha sewing machine, which cost Rs 200 in 1955,” she says.

She also took a small course to learn how the machine functions and learned the rest herself by observing other people stitch.

Coming back to the present, she had a hip injury a few years ago. But that did not shake her determination.

“Using a manual machine with an injured hip was not possible, so I decided to install a motor to help her sew,” says Naresh Bhatt, her son.

The bags made by her are distributed to anyone and everyone who needs them. They also collaborate with NGOs for the same.

As for the scraps, she sources them from tailors in her locality and a family friend who makes furniture.

When asked if she had any plans of retiring, Madhukanta promptly replies, “Not a chance!”