September 7, 2007 / 1:19 PM / 11 years ago

Delhi's plastic bags go chic at Paris Fashion Week

A boy collects discarded plastic bags from a garbage dump in New Delhi, June 11, 2006. New Delhi's discarded plastic bags will go on display at the Paris Fashion Week later this month, having been transformed into eco-chic handbags. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

NEW DELHI (Reuters Life!) - New Delhi’s discarded plastic bags will go on display at the Paris Fashion Week later this month, having been transformed into eco-chic handbags.

Conserve, a local environmental charity, will be showcasing the handbags recycled from plastic bags found in the rubbish dumps of New Delhi at a stall when the fashion fiesta gets underway in the French capital on Sept 30.

Plastic bags are seen as an environmental hazard as they are non-biodegradable.

Conserve has employed waste-pickers to collect New Delhi’s thousands of discarded plastic bags, sort them on the basis of colour and wash them. The bags are then moulded into thick sheets and stitched into colourful handbags.

Even the process of creating the various hues is environmentally-friendly. No dyes are used and the original colour of the plastic bags is retained.

“We are scavenging the refuse of daily life and transforming something useless into gold,” said Conserve’s Anita Ahuja.

“We export about 5,000 bags a month to our biggest markets in UK and France,” Ahuja said. “We also have buyers in many European countries and the U.S.”

Conserve has also branched out into other accessories such as belts and jewellery — all made from plastic bags. One of their raincoats sold for 300 euros last year.

The organisation, which started out in 1998 with just a few employees, now has 300 workers from lower income groups and an annual turnover of around 20 million rupees ($500,000).

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