27-year-old Shikha Shah started ‘ScrapShala’ to tackle the issue of waste generation. At various stages in her life, she was shown the extent of this problem and eventually decided to do something about it.
After completing her studies at IIT Madras, Shikha returned to Varanasi (her hometown) and two months later ‘ScrapShala’ was born, as an effective solution for using landfill waste and generating employment opportunities. ‘ScrapShala’ is based on the premise of upcycling an archaic technique used before machines took over. Also, Shikha from a young age had seen her mother making efforts to re-use waste goods.
Upcycling uses non-biodegradable waste such as plastic, paper, styrofoam, metal, glass, cardboard and e-waste to create products that are economical and quirky in design. ScrapShala’s products and service aim to increase the lifetime and value of non-biodegradable material and recreate decor and utility products with least energy consumption.
When starting out, Shikha went on numerous cleanliness drives, conducted workshops and took part in awareness campaigns. She soon hired a few interns and formed a team, which comprised of her mother and close friend, Kriti Singh. Some of the initial challenges she faced were – getting the artisans to work with scrap, convincing her family that this was a respectable profession and making clients accept her products.
Today, the ScrapShala team has brought sustainable livelihood to around 15 local artisans, who are carpenters, welders, painters, cleaners and weavers. With uprising market potential for eco-friendly goods, the brand wants to provide Indian consumers best options for re-purposed goods, keeping quality and affordability as the prime concern.
To meet expenses for waste collection and outreach for volunteer activities, Shikha has created a crowdfunding campaign on BitGiving. The focus for the next few years is on establishing a stable production house in Varanasi and increase in-house production of upcycled goods.