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Exchange programme

A photo project on sustainable development focuses on the Waghari community, who exchange old clothes for utensils.

A Waghari woman outside her house in the slum occupied by the community in Delhi. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor) A Waghari woman outside her house in the slum occupied by the community in Delhi. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor)

It takes many gallons of water and pesticides to produce 1 kg of cotton for a pair of denims, making the textile industry one of the most environmentally unfriendly industries. The disposal of textiles is also a problem. Reports suggest that 50 per cent of garment waste in a household is recyclable, but only 25 per cent gets recycled.

The bustling Kapda Mandi in Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor) The bustling Kapda Mandi in Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor)

The rest go to landfills or for waste incineration, where they are dissolved in chemicals or burnt, causing further damage.

Also see: The Wagharis — The unlikely recyclers you don’t know of

The Waghari tribals from Gujarat have been in the profession of recycling clothes for decades now. The women go on pheris — door-to-door exchanges of shiny utensils for old clothes — every afternoon.

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A man hawking his wares. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor) A man hawking his wares. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor)

The women first pick up utensils from shops, exchange them for old clothes, sell them in the Kapda Mandi in Delhi’s Raghubir Nagar and pay back the shopkeepers after keeping a marginal profit for themselves. Operating without any help from the government, they ends up supporting small businesses.

A Waghari woman outside her house. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor) A Waghari woman outside her house. (Express photo by Cheena Kapoor)

Around 500 kg of old clothes come into this market. These are segregated based on their quality and sold to merchants who add embellishments to them before selling them to small retailers.

The project is a series of work by the writer-photographer under the aegis of Neel Dongare Grant for Excellence in Photography by the India Photo Archive.

First published on: 20-03-2016 at 12:00:09 am
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