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Clothes Box Foundation Gives A New Meaning And Emotion To Old Clothes By Repurposing

Clothes Box Foundation Gives A New Meaning And Emotion To Old Clothes By Repurposing

Did you know, in India more than 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year? Most of this comes from household sources. That is, from our homes. But every piece of clothing, every shred of discarded cloth, no matter how torn or tattered, can be kept out of landfills. The most obvious solution is to donate your clothes for them to be given a second life. But what happens to your clothes once you have donated them? Where do they go? And who gets to wear them? Clothes Box Foundation, a non-profit organisation is making those “donated clothes” available to people and animals in need.

Also Read: Upcycling Old Denims Into Fashionable Bags And Accessories

In 2014, Sajan Veerr Abrol, founded the not-for-profit organisation, Clothes Box Foundation, with the idea of making “clothes accessible to those in need”. It started with only 200 clothes that the organisation had collected in three months. But such was the impact of this small initiative, that actor Amitabh Bachchan volunteered to be a part of the donation drive and gave them some of the costumes he wore in his movies. Today, the foundation collects up to 25,000 clothes per day.

Talking to NDTV about his initiative, Sajan Veerr Abrol said,

Our vision moved a step forward when we realised that as a unit we can help families also. We can employ people. We can recycle more. We can do more than just distribute clothes. Our first major milestone was helping the victims of the Jammu and Kashmir floods. In five days, we helped almost a thousand people and this is when we realised how much potential an idea could have. During our second year, we helped the victims of the Nepal Earthquake and Chennai floods with clothes and ration. Because we had created a network of cloth collection and at that time the beneficiary count was 2,000.

Also Read: Denim Khadi, A Sustainable Alternative To Regular Denim

When the clothes donated by people arrive at the Clothes Box Foundation, they go through a system of processing. They are first divided into clothes that are fit to be distributed and clothes that can't be.

Walking us through the processing area, Mr Abrol said,

All our collections are organised in racks by category. The rack for Indian wear will have either suits, sarees or dupattas. Then there is one rack only for winter wear. The clothes are then further segregated on the basis of size.

Segregating clothes by size is crucial to the process. It helps the foundation send the right clothes to the right places. Explaining the reason behind this, Mr Abrol added,

India is a land of diversity with different religions and cultures. We would not send a pant with a waist size of 32 to a state like Jharkhand. We believe it will be difficult to distribute clothes like these because people there are malnourished. There is no concept of the large size in a state like Odisha. Taking an XL piece there is completely pointless, and that is why we have this processing unit. The clothes you take to distribute must take into account the culture, religion and weather conditions of the region.

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Clothes always hold value. It need not only be monetary, but emotional as well. Clothes that are waste for some, can be a luxury for others. Sharing the findings of a recent survey conducted during donation drives, Mr Abrol said,

We found that an average person in the communities we were visiting, would buy a new piece of clothing, only five times in their entire lifetime. They will either ask someone for clothes or just take hand-me-downs from their relatives. The emotion behind clothes is very strong. When someone is given used clothes, it doesn't matter to them that they are used. The first emotion is that they won't have to wear their old, torn clothes anymore. That they have received a new set of clothes that they can wear repeatedly.

But what happens to the clothes that are not fit to be distributed, like stained or torn clothes? Keeping the dignity of the beneficiary in mind, unfit clothes are kept aside and sent to the recycling facility where the foundation makes school bags for children, blankets for distribution and other such things.

Mr Abrol says that out of 100 clothes, about 40 per cent are wasted or unfit for distribution. Those products are recycled to increase the life of the product; that part of the process is taken care of by Mr Abrol's mother. She said,

Our women are getting empowered, we are also contributing to saving the earth, and together we are preventing them (clothes) from ending up in landfills for a few more years.

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Sharing the idea behind making school bags, Mr Abrol said, “We went to distribute clothes in a village and we saw that many children were carrying polybags so we thought of making around 50 bags for them since we had the facility to do so. We realised that there was a much higher demand for bags. That year we ended up making five lakh bags.”

Clothes Box Foundation now aims to cover as many schools as possible in India where there is a need, including roadside schools where volunteers are teaching children on their own.

The biggest concern remains the clothes that have fallen apart into scraps. You would imagine there isn't much use for these scraps, but the Clothes Box Foundation has found the perfect solution which keeps our furry friends in mind.

Mr Abrol said,

Whenever one works with cloth, even if you are using old clothes to make something new, one does generate waste. We store these scraps of cloth throughout the year and fill them into gunny bags. During the winter, we buy jute bags and fill them with these scraps. This way, we create dog beds, which we keep for stray dogs in cold areas. The stray dogs get beds, and the waste fabric is also recycled.

The Clothes Box Foundation is just one organisation that is helping give our clothes a conscience. Do log on to for a list of NGOs to which you can donate your clothes because donating clothes is the most basic and easiest way to keep clothes away from landfills and do your bit for climate change.

Also Read: Give A New Life And Look To Your Old Sneakers By Painting Them

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