Do you separate biodegradable and nonbiodegradable waste at your home? Do you find yourself in conversations about environmental damage, conservation and sustainability? If yes, what are you really doing about it? An architecture student from KIIT School of Architecture and Planning, named Sradha Suman Rath (22) from Bhubaneswar, is doing her bit to try and keep our planet from being a big pile of garbage. Do you know how? Through upcycling!
Upcycling, in layman’s terms, is a process through which one could recycle waste, by-products and other unwanted materials into useful produce, that not only have an aesthetic appeal but also possess an environmental significance. In the premise of the pandemic and multiple lockdowns, many tried to opt for organic, eco-friendly products in their daily use, and some consciously chose to make sustainable changes in their lifestyle. Sradha Suman Rath is one such example. In an exclusive interview with NewsKarnataka, the founder of Punaraapi Upcycling Store spoke about these ideas. She said, “the idea is to turn trash into something beautiful and efficiently usable so that we can reduce the amount of waste going into landfills. The world already has a lot of waste. We can do our part by upcycling as much as we can.” In line with this, ‘Punaraapi,’ the name of her store, means again and again or several turns. The upcycling store was officially launched on 11th November, 2021.
Sradha confessed that the sight of waste dumped on roads and public places bothered her, and hence intended to act on her thoughts. “Waste won’t be created if a certain thing is in use, so we can upcycle every possible object. Thus, it gets used for a longer time than it was meant to be, leading to a generation of lesser waste. Upcycling should be a part of our lifestyle. Coming from an Indian household, I strongly relate to upcycling because we see our mothers doing it with household objects, even before ‘upcycling’ was a relevant concept,” she said. Although environmental issues, sustainability and conservation have been discussed for more than a decade, we hardly see a full blown positive effect in present times. “The problem is, these issues and topics remain ‘discussed.’ I believe that like-minded people have taken a good initiative to actually ‘work’ on this rather than just discussing and posting about it on their social media. I agree, awareness is extremely important but here, we need more than that,” Sradha affirmed.
The Upcycled Products
Sradha Suman Rath makes home decor products out of waste and she tries her best to give it an amazing finish. She explained that mostly, domestic waste is upcycled in her products. She added that most of the process involves cleaning and painting. Cleaning, being the very first and crucial step, requires water and detergent. “All of us know detergent is environmentally harmful. We use homemade natural cleaners made from soap nuts!” she claimed.
However, this venture is much like a boutique business. Speaking on the assumption that sustainable, organic and eco-friendly products are usually expensive, the founder of Punaraapi contended that every product is different from the other, which makes its commercial and environmental value different. Sradha added that each product takes a lot of time, energy, and care and so it may seem unaffordable although it is reasonable from the makers’ end. Furthermore, the pandemic and social media helped her get more clarity, audience and potential customers, despite the prevailing assumption. “To be honest, the pandemic gave me the time to slow down, think and act upon what I wanted to create. There were tough times but eventually, things have been better and I hope it will be better. On the other hand, social media has turned into ‘everything.’ My products and ideas reach people and I get genuine customers,” she said.
This young talented girl maintained that she wishes to see Punaraapi as an upcycling brand, with people bringing in potential waste and taking home beautiful artisanal products which shall lessen the overall waste. “I would like to convey that it’s high time we think and act upon ‘upcycling, recycling, reusing and reducing.’ Try your best to upcycle. If you are not able to upcycle somehow, bring it or send it to us,” Sradha Suman Rath signed off on this hopeful note.