Indian Entrepreneur Makes Treasure From Trashed American Textiles

Jaideep Sajdeh turns textiles from wealthy countries into reusable shopping bags, backpacks, and even handbags.

Mumbai native Jaideep Sajdeh turns trash from textiles wealthy countries like the U.S. into recycled treasure. Making use of these discarded textiles, he not only helped the environment with his business savvy, but also created a low-skill career opportunity in India.

The amount of used clothing and cloth from the U.S. and Canada is so large that the price of recycled textiles is incredibly cheap. Exporters often charge only for the cost of shipping, making the fabric virtually free. In spite of this, the market for processing these used garments for reselling has struggled in recent years.

Insert Mr. Sajdeh. His family has worked in the industry of transforming used garments into recycled yarn for decades. Thus, he was perfectly equipped to start a new business and revive the demand for used textiles. Sajdeh’s company recycles old textiles to make reusable shopping bags.

Sometimes made from old sheets, napkins, and even table cloths, these bags are even greener than the average reusable bag. Because the process demands a lot of labor, the low wage marker of India is ideal for large scale manufacturing. Sajdeh’s facility employs sixty people in a Mumbai suburb.

After cutting the materials into a standard size and checking for stains, the bags are stamped with designs and then sewn. The company, Texool, produces a variety of bags: shopping bags, wine bags, bottle bags, and even handbags and school bags. Most bags have a clever “I am not a virgin” label to explain how the bag was made.

'I am not a virgin' tag

A label for a bag made from recycled fabric in the Texool factory, in Kutch, Gujarat. PHOTO: ERIC BELLMAN/THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (source)

To make a real impact, the project needs to take on an industrial scale. Right now, Texool is producing about 1.5 million pieces a year. Within the next four years, Sajdeh hopes to increase this number to 5 million pieces a year. With prices ranging from .30 cents to $7, he is already supplying big Indian retailers and international brands like Disney, Colgate, and Steve Madden.

Sajdeh hopes that wealthy countries will one day be the most interested in buying his product. As he said, “As people are getting richer, it is no secret that there is more wastage happening, more dumping happening. Somebody has to step up, somebody has to start taking responsibility doing this on a mass (production) level rather than a cottage (industry) level.”

Photo source.

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