Tag Archives: featured post

Upcycling and street style

4 Mar Commonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot

My final 24 hours in Delhi proved quite busy. We were lucky to have a travelling American artist/photographer, Joey Edwards, join us for our last street shoot.

Joey had volunteered with Conserve India a few years ago and was dropping in to the office to say hi. We, of course, jumped at the chance to have an extra photographer for our planned photoshoot at Delhi’s Connaught Place shopping centre.

And here are the citizens of Delhi who graciously stopped to model our bags. Amazingly, these lovely ladies knew about the project because they’d read about it in the papersCommonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot

…and we thought our next model, Sujay, looked far more stylish than the United Colours of Bennetton mannequins we snapped him in front of (especially their hair arrangements…or lack thereof).

Commonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot 2

Commonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot 3

…We loved how Sumit’s dark clothing highlighted the bright colours of our Games messenger bag…

Commonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot 4

…and, finally, the very obliging Anyad and Mrinali, lending us their unique looks for this photo…

Commonwealth Games upcycled bags photoshoot 5

What was great about the shoot was that people got the idea quickly; they understood what we were trying to do.

We were overjoyed with their show of support (and the photos – thanks Joey and Jenna!)…

…like Shammi Kapoor (the ‘Elvis of Bollywood’) on seeing his true love…

…or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan mid-flight in song…



Social enterprise: business with benefits

22 Feb Jenna and the new mobile medical clinic van

So I was procrastinating for some time today, on one of the most amusing blogs I’ve stumbled onto in a while: Why make this? Why indeed.

The moral of the story? Laughing until there’s tears is actually a good way to bring on motivation.  And with that, it’s back to Serious Land…

Following on from our Interview with Anita Ahuja last week, here’s a few images showcasing the social services currently provided by Conserve India.

Many of the Conserve’s production teams (known as fabricators) are based in small workshops around Delhi.

Conserve recently began providing free health services for these workers and I joined them to document an eye clinic held at one of the East Delhi workshops.

The first step was to capture relevant health details such as age, weight and current medical issues…

Conserve India health clinic doctor

Conserve's doctors collect and record patient details

Conserve India health clinic

…Then staff were guided through an eye test.

The doctors get around language and reading challenges by simply asking staff to tell them which way the symbol is facing (on the far right chart)…

Conserve India health clinic eye check chart

Then the eyes are thoroughly examined and…

…prescriptions and treatment advices are given if needed.

Conserve India health clinic eye check  prescription

Conserve is also working with ragpicker communities living in Delhi’s slums, providing mobile health services and…

Jenna and the new mobile medical clinic van

Jenna and the new mobile medical clinic van

…a school for around 200 children.

Conserve India's school project

Conserve India's school project. Image courtesy of Jenna and Christina.

Jenna and Christina at the Conserve India school

Image courtesy of Jenna and Christina

More soon,


Shoes with soul?

9 Jan Handmade recycled plastic sandals

Remember how we were contacted by several corporates after news articles were published on our project? One such contact came from the footwear team at Reebok India. They wanted to know if Conserve India could make upcycled shoes.

Turns out the Conserve India crew have been testing shoe designs for quite a while now – even creating samples – using a wide range of discarded materials from tyre tubes to seatbelts and handmade recycled plastic (shopping bags). Here’s a sneak preview of a few of their styles:

Conserve India mixed materials shoe samples

Conserve India mixed materials shoe samples

Conserve India seatbelt slipons

Jenna models Conserve India's seatbelt slipons

Conserve India seatbelt slipons - showing gold mesh handmade recycled plastic inlay

Conserve India seatbelt slipons - showing gold mesh handmade recycled plastic inlay

Handmade recycled plastic sandals

Handmade recycled plastic sandals

Tyre tube closed toe shoe and men's chappals (slip-on sandal)

Tyre tube closed toe shoe and men's chappals (slip-on sandal)

I particularly love the HRP sandals, with the sherbety pinks and pastel blues of the original shopping bags. Yep, that’s right, no inks or dyes are added during the production process, the single-use shopping bags are simply layered to create the desired shades. Which ones do you like?

Conserve is not yet producing shoes commercially, as they are waiting to move to a new purpose built factory in Bahadurgah on Delhi’s west (more on that soon). But the partnership interest from Reebok definitely presents new and exciting possibilities for a profitable upcycled shoe range – we’ll let you know how it progresses.

In the meantime, I got to wondering if there were any other upcycling or socially responsible shoe manufacturers already selling products. Here’s what I found with a quick internet search:

  • Simple Shoes – check out their impressive range of recycled and sustainable materials
  • Tom’s Shoes – not so much a focus on environmental considerations (although they do have a vegan range), but they’re tackling a global social challenge with a great model –  for every pair of shoes sold by this US company a pair is given to a child who needs them. And by the looks of their website, the idea is gathering a lot of support…
  • Etiko – award winning, Aussie company making shoes from sustainable materials and working with fairtrade suppliers

So, dear readers, a few ways to go forth, flex your consumer muscle…

Christina and Jenna product testing in Reebok's Connaught Place store

Christina and Jenna product testing in Reebok's Connaught Place store

…and tread lightly. If you know of any other companies doing good things in footwear we’d love to hear about it.

Closing ceremony exclusive…

16 Oct Rahul with Gold messenger bag at Games Athletics

As those of you on facebook and twitter will recall, we did promise you some exclusive footage taken during the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony…and here it is!

Yep, my housemate, Ekta, and I watched it on TV. But we did hear the fireworks going off from our flat. Ekta was lucky to receive two guest passes to the Games through her work.

So we sent Christina and Jenna along as a bit of a thumbs up for all the hard work they’ve put in as interns for Conserve India. There was one condition – they had to take photos, lots of photos.

Here are just a few we thought we’d share…

Aerostat at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Aerostat balloon lit up at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Christina at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Christina at the world's largest blue light disco

Jenna at the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

Jenna shows us what she thinks of the Delhi 2010 Closing Ceremony

…but the real highlight of the Games for us was watching the amazing Indian women’s 4×400 metre relay win last Tuesday night…

Indian 4x400m gold medallists

Indian Women's 4x400m gold medallists

We captured the last lap on video – the crowd was deafening…

As Jenna (in true Californian style) said, ‘Man, that was tight!’

Our neighbour, Rahul thought so too, even offering to model our messenger bag for us in the spirit of celebration…

Rahul with Gold messenger bag at Games Athletics

Rahul shows off the Gold messenger bag in the Athletics crowd

Most definitely a stand out memory from these Games.

Will we pull off an upcycling win like India’s relay runners?

We’re winding our way through a mad maze of meetings, phone calls and Hindi hold music to do just that. Stay tuned, dear readers, the Games ain’t over yet…

An environmental gold?

8 Oct Upcycled Commonwealth Games messenger bags at Qtub Minar

Remember our race to catch waste from a Commonwealth Games media event? And how we journeyed to a distant sorting depot all in the name of upcycling?

Well, dear readers, this is where it all ended up – those muddy vinyl banners really scrubbed up well as a tote and messenger bags didn’t they?

Upcycled Commonwealth Games messenger bags at Qtub Minar

Our bags in Balban's Tomb enclosure, near Qtub Minar: we like durable constructions.

When Jake arrived in Delhi last weekend we quickly organised a few locations we thought might make suitable backdrops for our products.

So, while people were gathering at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium for the Games opening ceremony on Sunday, we went to the park.

But this is no ordinary park: the Archeological Park – near the Qutb Minar Complex – is full of ancient and medieval monuments and tombs, some dating back around 800 years. It’s a lush, green and restful place, enjoyed by many visitors, such as…

Girls modelling the Commonwealth Games bags in the park

Girls volunteering to model our bags in the park

…a group of young ladies who chased after us to be in a photo (or two or three or…). Then we found a friendly cricketer willing to take time out from the game to model our messenger bag…

Cricketer models messenger bag in the park

It's a six! Cricketer models messenger bag in the park

…He’s no twelfth man (we didn’t have time to catch his name as he was straight back to the game – what a marvellous player!)…

And look who we found on his way to the Games…

Games volunteer with Commonwealth Games upcycled bag

Salman, our Games volunteer, volunteering to model with our bag

Salman, one of thousands of Delhi’s Commonwealth Games volunteers (also quite marvellous), kindly stopped to sport our Games messenger bag on his shoulder for a while. We dig the way his uniform brightens up the bag.

The following day (Monday 5th October), we took the bags to one of the first day’s events – a men’s team gymnastics medal session.

At first we weren’t sure we’d get past security, especially with all Jake’s equipment. (These guys were serious, they even confiscated a Aussie 5c coin wedged in a corner of my wallet)…

Christina getting through Games security

Christina flanked by Games security guards

…But we managed to arrive at the very swish Indira Gandhi Stadium just in time to cheer the Australian men’s gymnastic team as they took out a gold medal…

Cheering the Australian Men's gymnastic team at Delhi 2010

Cheering the Australian Men's gymnastic team at Delhi 2010

…and look who we found cheering as well – family members of gymnast, Thomas Pichler: his mum, Sylvia Pichler and wife, Andrea Rummele. After a bit of explaining, they very graciously offered to pose in a photo for us. Sylvia mentioned how her son trains for thirty-five hours a week, as well as making an income and trying to complete university studies (we wonder how he does it?) as apparently gymnastics doesn’t attract a lot of sponsorship.

The ladies were quite enthusiastic about the bags; Sylvia runs a sportswear business and has an eye for a marketable product. Both women were interested in purchasing the bags – how’s that for a bit of positive market feedback!…

Aussie gymnast's mum and wife model the bags

Aussie gymnast's mum and wife modelling the bags

…we had a fantastic time with Jake and wish him well re-settling back in New York (and we have more of his great photos to share with you soon).

But for now our focus is on the hunt for waste directly from the Games (remember our goal is to establish the Delhi Games as the first major event to upcycle event waste)…with only 4 days left, the race for catching waste is truly on here in Delhi…

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