New Delhi: A retirement plan that is not just about financially securing one’s own future but also about securing the future of the planet, is how Mumbai-based sculptor Anu Tandon Vieira, visualised the phase when she hung her boots. She wanted to use her art expertise to help artisans by providing them livelihood. That is how she came up with the idea of starting a unique line of furniture made from waste items with the help of local Indian artisans. And that is what she calls her perfect “Retyrement plan”.
Talking to NDTV about her green crusade, Anu says,
I had one of those, ’What have I done with my life?’ moments. The next question I asked myself ‘what do I want to do with my life after my retirement? Surprisingly, the answer was not that difficult. The one thing was decided – I wanted to do something that will make a difference.
Talking about how she zeroed in, on the idea to do something with waste materials, she added,
I have lived in Mumbai for over 20 years now and I call it my home. And it is very sad to see your home turning into one big dump yard. Whenever I looked around, all I could find was waste and waste alone. I felt passionate about dealing with this problem through my artwork and that is when I decided to start “Retyrement plan”.
To take the venture forward, Anu connected with local weavers and started giving a new shape to the waste. From using paper, fabric, plastic to used tyres and a lot of other perfectly good materials that usually ends up adding to the ever-increasing garbage problem in our country. Anu is making beautiful furniture items. Her unique line of furniture has pouffes, ottomans, chairs, tables, sofas, swings, hammocks and pods. The furniture is perfectly suitable for indoor as well as outdoor arrangements, it is waterproof, durable and Anu vouches that it can attract anyone in just one look.
Explaining her work, Anu says,
As a first step, I gather the waste products – from old clothes, plastic items and rejected tyres from factories and workshops, I collect it all. Then together with my artisans, I combine the waste products and try to convert it into something useful. The aim is to use waste materials which otherwise would end up in landfills.
Today, with the help of six regular artisans and 12 part-timers, Anu’s start-up manufactures about 100 pieces of furniture ranging from Rs 6,000 to about Rs 20,000 per month.
“But this journey has not been easy,” asserts Anu as she speaks about the challenges of starting something like this. She says that the biggest challenge in starting something like this is that there are not enough buyers out there. She adds,
“As soon as people know that these items are made using waste materials they are not ready to pay us the amount we are asking. They say it is too costly. What they don’t understand is the hard work and efforts that goes behind making such products.”
The waste warrior signs off by saying,
I wish people understand the importance of waste. I wish to educate or motivate people in buying upcycled products. Currently, our country is covered in waste, we as humans should do whatever we can to help save the planet.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollution, clean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.