An artisan’s dream

Rajiben, a widow from a family of weavers, has set up a collective of women in her village in Kutch who collectively collect plastic waste, wash it, sort it, spin it by hand and weave it into beautiful, colourful design products. It is with the help from her daughter and sister she started her own work of weaving with discarded plastic. 

The upcycling troop

As she began working on her own, more and more women around her got interested. She calls them behene (meaning sisters in hindi ) as they all are in some sense sisters in solidarity. Her sisters from the village wanted to join her work, they recognized the importance and impact of the process and wanted to be a part of it. Today they have about 8 – 10 women working with them, involved in multiple processes and more than 20 women helping with sourcing. 

This work also provides her with the fulfillment of doing her part for the environment. Rajiben truly beliefs in the power of action over words. However small, her practice of collections, processing and weaving discarded plastic into renewed products is her way of making this earth a better place. Over the last year they used up around 100.000 kilos of plastic. It gives her immense pleasure to keep working on something that created such an obvious impact on the environment. 

Today, upcycling has become a lifestyle for us. Everywhere the women go, they pick it up to ensure it doesn’t harm the surroundings. Rajiben has also motivated the women in her village to stop burning or throwing these plastics away and instead give them for recycling. 

Developing a collection

In 2022, when I came to know about the exhibition at Tropenmuseum on plastic, I approached them whether they would be interested in products made by Rajiben. Together we developed a collection for the museumshop of Tropenmuseum, coinciding with the exhibition Plastic Crush. The colours of the products show which colour plastics can be found mostly in the region. Rajiben’s speciality is blending of traditional weaving techniques with modern styles. This exquisitely crafted collection focuses on bold colours and textures.  The result is spectacular, durable, and sustainable.