Smiling is infectious and if you give out smiles, they spread like a flu. Priya Sachdev, a 28-year-old commerce graduate, runs an initiative that too aims to bring smiles on the faces of hundreds of marginalised school children by giving them each a ‘Bag of Smile’.
Priya and her team of two close friends collect discarded old jeans from homes and transform them into trendy attractive school bags for needy children. Some 100 women have been engaged in stitching bags from the convenience of their homes. Their sewing machines have been fitted with motors to expedite the task. More than 1,000 bags have been distributed so far, while a stock of 600 bags is ready to be distributed.
“Bag of Smile is a registered NGO of ours, which aims to work for the 3 Es — Environment, Education and Employment. It takes thousands of liters of water to manufacture one jeans or denim pant. Jeans are hardy material that last long and so, even if the cloth gets out of use, it can be recycled for varied purposes,” Priya said. The collected jeans are then transported to women tailors who stitch them into trendy bags.
“For a set of 10 bags, the workers are paid Rs 500-600 each. Since the initiative started in January 2020, the women were able to generate income for their families even during the trying times of lockdown,” said Priya. The team also works for brand collaborations by approaching organisations, clubs and donors by offering them the bags at reasonable prices so as to be gifted to needy children.
“One can purchase these bags from us for Rs 150/per piece, which also has a pencil case that comes with it. The profit would be given to the workers while volunteers are paid conveyance charges only,” she said. Next, the NGO proposes to prepare vegetable and grocery bags for household usage. “The bags too would be made of jeans that are durable and washable, having different slots for different veggies. Similarly, it may be used for purchasing groceries too. Once these bags start being used regularly, people would stop using polythene bags, which are dangerous for the environment,” she said.