Since the start of the pandemic last year, the landscape of waste has changed significantly, with the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gloves creating a common source of waste in virtually all parts of the world.
Well aware of the issue, Indian fashion designer Lakshmi Menon has come up with a way to turn the PPE waste problem into a solution — for sleeping.
As part of her new project called Shayya — which means ‘bed’ in Sanskrit — Menon uses waste scraps from India’s PPE factories and braids them together to make lightweight, cheap, and hygienic mattresses.
The designer came up with the idea after seeing children sleeping on the road and then seeing heaps of waste fabric in a friend’s fashion house.
“Through some of my friends, I got to know that units making PPE are struggling to dispose of the waste generated,” said Menon. “I was already in the process of making bedrolls with cloth at that time, but then this idea of making similar bedrolls using PPE scrap struck me.”
Being cheap and easy to disinfect, the Shayya bedrolls came in handy when the Indian state of Kerala ordered the opening of 50-bed COVID care centers, but found that mattresses were in short supply.
With the belief that “everyone deserves a good night’s sleep,” Shayya also supplies its mattresses to homeless people and shelter homes.
And on top of providing work for local communities, the project also benefits the environment by diverting a significant amount of waste PPE from landfills.