From Rags to Shayya : Lakshmi Menon is Back !

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Pure Living encourages each of us to make ‘Shayya’ for the poor and homeless  

Pure Living is back with yet another incredible initiative. On women’s day this year, the firm that focusses on eco-friendly products and eco awareness, launched a special product titled ‘Shayya’, a handcrafted mattress that is being distributed free of cost to the poor and homeless. What makes it special is the fact that it is upcycled from cloth waste. Yes, the cloth scrap generated at fashion design or tailoring units that is usually burnt every single day is what is being used to make the Shayya. The result? Less pollution and a warm cozy surface for the poor and homeless! Read on to know more about this wonderful initiative by Lakshmi Menon. 

Text: Riya Sonny Datson

“A night stroll anywhere in our country will reveal folks sleeping on the deserted verandahs or streets. The scenario does not change whether it is the city, a pilgrim site or a village street. The earth transforms into a bed and the cold darkness becomes the quilt, which very often leaves the poor and homeless shivering through the night. This group unfortunately includes children and elders as well. On the other hand, a stroll through the fashion lanes or tailoring sites will reveal piles of cloth scrap that is being trashed and burnt every single day,” says Lakshmi Menon, founder of Pure Living.

Lakshmi who is a designer at heart noticed that the second scenario holds a simple solution to the first! “I realised that with a little effort, we could upcycle the cloth waste from homes, various institutes and tailoring units into a convenient bed roll or a mattress. This can roll up and serve as a pillow or a mattress or a quilt to a little child or a trembling elder who is left to sleep on the street at night. This thought is what led to Shayya,” she smiles

She goes on to explain that the technique used to make this mattress is very simple. There is no machine, expertise or investment needed to make them. If you know how to braid, even a child can make it. Lakshmi has already made a video of how one can craft a Shayya on their own which is being circulated on social media. She is holding talks with schools, social organisations, women’s groups and housewives who might be able to take it up as a project towards community service.  “Just a mind to help and a strong desire to reduce this imbalance is all that you need. In the state of Kerala alone, tonnes of cloth waste is discarded and burnt every day! We must remember that while burning this waste, we are also burning the huge amount of resources that went into making them; apart from adding to the immense pollution it is causing to the environment. The indirect damage is irreconcilable. So why not upcycle and convert it into an item of comfort for the homeless? What better way to preserve our resources?” she asks.

Now that schools are closed and kids are stuck at home due to the Corona outbreak, children can be encouraged to make these quilts from old sarees, bedsheets or any other old discarded cloth scrap. She encourages individuals and groups to start making the Shayya and share it with the community. “I welcome everyone to take up this project as their own responsibility. Shayya is just a concept that I want to put across to the society just like the chekutty dolls or the Ship of Gratitude. It is a socially relevant project, which can be done in a decentralised model across the world since the raw material and the beneficiaries of the product can be found in any part of the world. When it comes to our personal gain – we help preserve our environment, save valuable resources and most importantly, we can sleep soundly knowing that we helped a homeless child or an elder to sleep soundly.”

Lakshmi is currently busy with her next project Loka, which is a collective effort to ‘break the chain’ (the movement against Corona Virus) by providing free sanitisers to public spaces like railway, bus stations, auto workers etc through crowd sourcing with the help of a digital campaign titled Loka. Do your bit to fight against the Corona Virus! Visit www.loka2020.in for more details!

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