Beej, a lifestyle & accessories brand founded by Arundhati Kumar believes that sustainability & style must co-exist for our planet's future. Beej designs their products with new age materials that are sustainable in different forms to create timeless accessories for a better tomorrow. The brand works with a variety of materials sourced from across the globe which are either sustainable by nature (Cork & leather alternatives made from pineapple leaf fibres, Pinatex) or Upcycled (Discarded leather scraps & fabrics recovered from old umbrellas for waterproof linings in their products). We covered two of their recent initiatives that use discarded materials to create upcycled products -
Beej experimented with Khesh, an age old weaving technique where the warp is new yarn and the weft is thin strips torn from old cotton sarees, for a new collection featuring India's origins. The tearing process of this technique is labour intensive and done by hand where typically a single saree would yield 80-90 thin cotton strips. There is an entire district in Bengal, India dedicated to this form of weaving which is almost entirely done on handlooms. Beej used this upcycled textile to create a collection of handbags for daily wear in beautiful colours.
Joey Bags Initiative
In the second half on 2019, Australia witnessed the worst natural disaster of recent times where over 18 million hectares were burned in the Australian bushfires, destroying over 5,900 buildings including over 2,800 homes. In addition to human fatalities, many millions of animals were killed.
During this calamity, Arundhati and her nine year old daughter were distressed by the magnitude of this disaster where millions of animals had lost their lives, were burnt or abandoned across the country.
On one such update on social media, Arundhati came across an Animal Rescue Volunteering group which was asking people to send ready to use rescue aid in soft organic materials like cotton and wool for various animals. This included bat rolls, mitten for the Koalas, bags for Kangaroos and wallabies, etc. That is when she realised that old cotton sarees and bedlinen could be ideal for this and she wrote a post on a group called Saree Speak asking people to donate material which would be further stitched at Beej's studio.
People from across the country started sending materials including a few designers & friends who gave their new sarees, bought new material or emptied out their wardrobes for this cause. As a result, Beej ended up making 220 upcycled bags where the inner material was from cotton sarees and the outer layer had thick bed linens. The bags were shipped to the ARC centre in New South Wales and Arundhati received a lot of appreciation for her team's effort.