Don’t Have A Super Cool Bag Already? Why Don’t You Try Upcyclie – Making Upcycled Products Using Waste Materials

Environment By Ritika Bidawat | 4 min read

Upcycled Products - Products Using Waste Materials

Please let us know a little about the founder of upcycled products – Upcyclie, & I got back the most fantastic answer.

“Hi, I am Namrutha Ramanathan, from Chennai. I am just a happy human, & a proud pet parent of three cute cats”.

Namrutha Ramanathan, owner Upcyclie
Upcycled Products - Products Using Waste Materials
Source – Namrutha

How often do we come across a person who has the most vibrant vibe and the sanest intentions? Meet Namrutha the brain behind Upcyclie – Saving the world, one bag at a time. Namrutha meaning modesty (Like, literally) is the backer of my story today.

With her brand Upcyclie, she is bringing the best of both worlds for us. In her words, she is simply roaming the streets picking up waste and then making things out of it. But in my words, she is picking up troubles from the face of mother earth and is converting them into gold meanwhile providing financial independence to many women.

Upcyclie makes unique accessories like cool bags, funky kindle sleeves, sustainable wallets and many more fun products using waste materials from the textile industry. Upcyclie’s upcycled products for sale were created with ONE goal in mind – Eliminate textile waste while establishing a circular economy with upcycled products.

Who is Namrutha Ramanathan

Namrutha worked for the corporate sector for nearly 10 years but she was always a little more than what the box had. She was observant and empathetic of the world. Coming from a middle-class family she had often observed her grandmother upcycling products from old clothes and things.

She loved it when her grandmother would make a frock for her from her old sarees and during the pandemic she saw that her grandmother used her nightgown to make masks for the whole street and still a lot of fabric was left to reach the landfills. It was at this moment this wandering head thought, “what happens to all the leftover fabric, does it all go to waste and create a hump of dead fabric”

Upcycled Products - Products Using Waste Materials
Source – Pexels

What do other people do with extra cloth left after making a dress? The curious kid got herself working on her concern. She spoke to 90 tailors, about what they do with the extra waste cloth & the answer was straightforward “Remaining pieces are thrown away’.

There was a lot of wastage and someone had to do something about it. If it has to be someone then why not me?

Namrutha Ramanathan, owner Upcyclie

As an environment-conscious couple, Namrutha discussed her concerns with her husband, & shared her suggestion to deal with the issue ” how about I create upcycled products from the waste of fabric‘. Her parents were not happy with where her insane brain was leading, but Namrutha’s husband understood her sane cause and was thrilled to hear her do something this cool.

Namrutha had her graduation in accounting and finance, while her master’s was in marketing. As she had no background in design or fashion it was altogether a new chapter to open in her life. She was confident of her cause but was really sceptical about its success.

Before Upcycling Products, Upcycle The Thought

Upcycled Products - Products Using Waste Materials
Source – Upcyclie

Just having an idea was not enough she had many questions – like how to make bags with different kinds of fabric, as the cloth waste that she was persistent in finding the use of, had inconsistency. And this was where the real hustle started, she stepped out of her comfort zone and went out asking people what to do and what not to do about it.

Spoke to the people of Tirupur and realised that a lot of polyester was made and sent into waste. Only in Chennai people dump a staggering 251 tonnes of textile waste into landfills every day. And since 2016, this count has been increasing by 8% annually.

upcycled products - products using waste materials
Source – Upcyclie

Namrutha had a job when she started Upcyclie, it was a side hustle. But she made the decision to study bag-making. She had very little free time while working, but she nonetheless explored on the weekends and during her lunch breaks. A nearby aunty offered to help her over a three-month period so that Namrutha could learn how to make bags. The aunty guided Namrutha in understanding what needed to be done and what wasn’t, as well as what could and couldn’t be turned into bags. It was here she got her technical knowledge right.

“If it was not for that aunty I would have been making georgette bags and would not have been selling any. It was because of my technical knowledge that we are doing what we are doing. Now I can dismantle any bag and put it back in no time. I am confident of the roots of my idea.”

Namrutha Ramanathan, owner Upcyclie

She got her hands dirty- literally, and went out collecting fabric waste. Slowly got her hands-on consumer textile waste, large mills waste, and larger solid waste management companies. It was not just about diverting it but putting it back into upcycled products that thrilled her the most.

I was not creating something out of the virgin material or something. I was making art out of waste. It was extremely challenging but thrilling but I am proud to say that every single piece of mine is unique and can not be recreated.

Namrutha Ramanathan, owner Upcyclie

Upcyclie – Fashioning With upcycled Products Using Waste materials

Delivering top-notch Products Using Waste materials is an extremely good cause but what adds more glitter to this project is Namrutha’s workforce. She is empowering women in learning the art and making a living for themself. It’s been one and a half years, and 600 kg of waste has been converted.

Upcycled Products - Products Using Waste Materials
Source – Upcyclie

When the waste accumulation from making upcycling products grew to 50-60 kg a week she decided to expand her team. She was unsure whether the woman she was asking for assistance would regard this as a respectable job or not. Waste collection & upcycling products have the reputation of being a menial job, she anticipated that they would hesitate to do the job.

In response, one of Namrutha’s artisans said, “I am doing it for my children who will live in this world after us while making money out of it what else can I ask from you”. As SRK very famously said” Kehte hain agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaho; to puri kainaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai“. The desire of Namrutha to build a better world was well understood and welcomed.

The helping women were initially only selecting and sorting the waste cloth, so she decided to teach them the craft. She had not anticipated that these women would pick up the job so quickly, but they quickly attained mastery.

Upcyclie has put everything in place

“I got my basics very very right. I was on the road almost every weekend, I went to people, and got to all markets. Most days did not even qualify for their MOQ. I still went understanding the market. I went asking what zip to use, and what material is made of what. Although it was a lot for me, I still wanted to do it, and believe me, I won’t stop until I finish what I started.”

Namrutha Ramanathan, owner Upcyclie

Having an understanding husband and the zeal to uplift society while keeping the earth safe helped Namrutha successfully establish Upcyclie. It was an endless talk with Namrutha without tom -tomming much she has shown her mettle with her work. Not just a social uplifter Nandita is an entrepreneur & to know more about this wonderful startup owner do read our next article. It is a rapid-fire interview with Namrutha, I don’t think you should miss it.

Find the best-upcycled products online India at Upcyclie

Feature Image – Upcyclie & Upcyclie

If you liked reading this post, you should also read about Priyadarshan Sahasrabuddhe, An IIT engineer who helps you convert your home kitchen waste into green biogas for cooking

If you know more inspirational stories about a person, company, new idea, or social initiative, and want us to write them on, share such information with us on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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