Recycled Bags and Quilts Forum

Bag samples made by discarded cloths:

This Forum has been working in the Dwarka area of West Delhi during the last three years, since 2016, to promote and adopt green designing through a series of part-breaking innovations in recycling of old/discarded clothes collected from homes, offices and garment industry to create a wide range of utility and fashion products – bags, quilts, jackets, foldable almirahs, attaché cases from old clothes. The Forum uses old discarded clothes and fabric wastes and rejects from garment manufacturers and exporters to create these useful products. It thus promotes decreased use of plastic/leather/wood/metal products commercially available in the market and saves the use of cotton and the water used for its cultivation.

The Forum has been professionally skilling and training poor women in this vocation. The Forum is coordinated by Madhu Raj.

Promoting green designing
Greening of textile manufacturing and apparel making industry is slowly emerging as a new area of concern in global environmental policies and initiatives. Currently, many international brands of textile and clothing have started expressing green design idea in many ways such as use of recycled materials and use of non-polluting raw materials in production.

Savings in cotton cultivation and water for irrigation
On an average, one bale (500 lbs) of cotton is obtained from one acre of land. For growing one bale, about 6 lakh gallons of water is needed. One bale of cotton can produce 215 pairs of jeans or 250 bed sheets or 765 men’s dress shirts or 1,217 men’s T-shirts or 500 skirts or 370 women’s dresses. If each set of these six garments (totaling about 3300 garments), when they become old and discarded, are recycled to produce new products, it will result in saving of six bales of cotton. This means six acres of land would be freed from cotton growing, leading to a saving of 6X6 or 36 lakh gallons of water!

Raw materials that can be sourced/collected for this recycling are:

  1. From households: Old sarees, pants and jeans, shirts, tops, salwar-kameez, chunnis, lahangas, scarfs, lungis, bed sheets and curtains.
  2. From Bartanwalis: Purchase of old clothes from the traditional hawking bartanwalis, whose vocation is to barter a whole variety of kitchen utensils in exchange of old clothes given to them by householders.
  3. From cloth and garment Industry: Fabric waste, defective cut pieces, industry trims like thread, foam, zips, cloth belts and embroidery patches (from fashion garment units).

Products that are made from discarded clothes/fabric waste include Bags: Shoulder fashion bags, single pocket sling bags, school bags, college student bags, laundry bags, picnic bags, travel/shaving kit bags, storage bags, shopping bags with wheels multipurpose bags, baby sling bags, tiffin bag and foldable bags.

Quilts: Double and single bed size quilts, patch work quilts, jackets (including half jackets).

Home Organising: Storage items such as hanging cloth almirahs, foldable cloth almirahs/wardrobes, attaché cases, home storage organisers, document organisers, hanging shoe racks, covers for air-conditioner, washing machine other home appliances.

Home décor: Bed covers, blanket covers, cushions and cushion covers, rugs, Kashmiri namdas, teacozis, table mats and runners, napkin holders, paper-pen holders, newspaper/magazine holders.

Computers: Desktop computer covers (monitor & keyboard), laptop bags, mobile phone holders.

Fabric jewellery: These jewellery pieces are made from old gamchhas, made from hand-woven coarse cotton cloth. This is because this cloth can be easily twisted and bet to make the desired jewellery pieces.

One product of particular interest in this recycling inventory will be the foldable almirah/wardrobe. This product is a unique innovation and is designed to provide a reliable low-cost solution to the perpetual problem of shortage of storage space faced by lower/middle households, particularly young working couples. This almirah will have adjustable shelf for foldable items such as T-shirts and shorts, drawers, full hanging rod for dresses and coats and sarees, 3/4 hanging for shorter dresses and trousers, 1/2 hanging for shirts and blouses and other things. The products are made attractive by using folk paintings and jute artifacts decorations like Warli and Madhubani paintings, wherever desirable.

Table 1 below gives figures regarding production of items by recycling discarded clothes.

Table 1
Examples: Use of Discarded Clothes in Production of New Items

Material Items that can be produced
One jean 1 bag, 1 attaché case, 1 saree case, 1 storage bag, 1 hanging shoe rack
One office shirt 1 small travel bag or document pouches or 1 shaving kit or1 case for storage (sarees, blouses, tops, undergarment, etc.) or 1 multi-purpose kit
One saree 5 different bags or 1 single bed quilt or1 set of five cushion covers
 Two sarees Double bed quilt
 One salwar-kameez (women suits) 3 bags or 2 storage bags or3 paper holder
 Two salwar kamiz Single bed quilt 0r  1 blanket cover
 Three salwar kamiz 1 patch work quilt
 One bed sheet 3 , bags or 2 laundry bags or1 dohar (ac quilt) or5 storage cases
 One gamchha (apron) About 50 jewellery pieces


  1. Training of school children in recycling of their old/discarded cloths to make small bags and purses, St. Mary Public School, Dwarka, New Delhi, 2016.
  2. Interactive exhibition/demonstration on cloth recycling, Ganapati Utsav, Dwarka, New Delhi, 2016.
  3. Participation in Dwarka Mahila Haat, Dwarka, New Delhi, December 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  4. Interactive exhibition/demonstration on cloth recycling, Ramleela Mela, Dwarka, New Delhi, October 2017.
  5. Interactive exhibition/demonstration on cloth recycling, Durga Puja Festival, Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi, October 2017
  6. Lord Krishna Utsav, Dwarka, New Delhi, August 2018.
  7. Participation in Women Entrepreneurs’ Group, Swadeshi Jagran Manch, Dwarka, New Delhi, October 2017, 2018.
  8. Interactive exhibition/demonstration on cloth recycling, Lord Krishna Utsav, Dwarka, New Delhi, August 2018.
  9. Women entrepreneurs’ exhibition at Agomony Bangla Festival, Kali Bari, Dwarka, 2016, 2017, and 2018.