How Goonj Rehabilitates Communities Across India using the Fashion Industry’s Waste: Cloth

With the rise of fast fashion and the obsessive compulsion to keep up with new trends, textile waste is growing at an unprecedented rate. In India, 68% of the population shop every month for clothes. The clothes we throw away end up in landfills and by 2050, we’re going to need one as big as the state of Delhi to accommodate our waste.

In stark contrast with this snapshot of excess, there’s a family freezing to death a few kilometres away from a neighbourhood mall because they can’t afford a blanket. This is where Goonj comes in. Founded by Anshu Gupta, Goonj does a groundbreaking job of bringing resources, education and employment to disprivileged rural and tribal communities across the country. Their circular model works on the five-D principle of Distribution, Detailing, Direction, Distance and Dignity.

Goonj distributes and recycles the clothes we throw away to make kits that they then provide to the families they employ. Under their “Cloth for Work” initiative, Goonj processes over 3000 tonnes of material. Owing to their zero waste policy, they use every piece of scrap material they can get their hands on, employing people from slums and tribal communities to sort, recycle and redistribute clothes that both generate revenue for Goonj and directly serve village communities.

In our efforts to consume consciously, we couldn’t think of a better organization to team up with. Going beyond charity, Goonj’s work is founded on rehabilitating communities through empathy and dignity with respect to local tradition and wisdom. Drop off your spare clothes at Le Mill. Usable clothes will be sorted into family kits and distributed. Unusable and oversized clothing will be recycled and handwoven by tribal women to make mats, quilts and bags. They will also be used to make various products sold under their Green by Goonj line.

Goonj also uses cotton material to make sustainable sanitary pads under their “More than just a piece of cloth” initiative. Rural women will use whatever they get their hands on to deal with menstruation, think old cloth, leaves and even sand. Goonj doesn’t just provide these women with hygienic products but also educates communities, including men to destigmatize menstruation and reintegrate women into society. This basic resource and education keeps girls in school.

In exchange for your contributions, earn loyalty points with Le Mill. Know that your spare clothes won’t just go to another charity but will help empower entire families, providing them with financial independence and reduce the carbon footprint that went into creating your favourite denims. Drop off your clothes between the 20th and 22nd at Le Mill, Colaba anytime during regular store hours: 11:00am -7:00pm.