The impossible dream of the talented amateur is for a passion to become a vocation. Mumbai-based Amishi Parasrampuria made it come true. She quit a lucrative corporate job to form The Upcycle Co that turns non-recyclable waste into creative decor items in 2015 to educate people on mobilising waste.
Back then, Amishi began working with waste glass, CDs, paper, and almost every other item of waste. Three years on, she has expanded on the good work by launching the newly minted Upcycler’s Lab that is creating eco-learning tools and programmes for parents and schools.
“Our vision is to change people’s mindset and behaviour on treating waste. We only work with children below nine since they learn fast at that age,” says the 28-year-old entrepreneur.Upcycler’s Lab DIY activity boxes include board games and puzzles made with recycled paper, which can be further recycled. Though the boxes are available online on Amazon and Hopscotch, they are sold mainly through schools. The unique factor is the continuity of engagement in and out of school. “These games teach children about waste segregation, water conservation and responsible consumerism. We also have a product model programme by which each child gets to take one product home, so that they can continue the conversation with their parents next. The programme also enables the teacher to take up the same conversation in school,” says Amishi, who believes her products give children the much-required gadget-free time in the digital age.
Amishi was initiated to upcycling by a professor while studying for her master’s in international management in the UK. Back in India, she began experiments in upcycling and was success in selling décor objects made primarily from vinyl.“They were crafted from waste we used to buy from raddiwallahs and through donations. Bringing about a behavioural change in people was a struggle. There was no post-purchase conversation on putting waste to use. Last year, while working on a not-for-profit project with 1,500 children, we turned our focus on addressing these issues,” says Amishi.
After each product launch, Upcycler’s Lab’s team of eight reaches out to mothers and teachers for feedback. “We don’t believe in making 100 versions of our products before launch. We share them with different stakeholders and involve them in the design process. We ask for feedback only after a couple of months of the launch and then improvise,” she says.
Till now, the production team that comprises hundreds of employees has upcycled over 1,000 kg of waste and saved 1,170 kg of carbon emissions in the process.While The Upcycle Co has not started retailing yet, it undertakes corporate assignments and individual projects, and also makes space design installations. Amishi is also attached with Global Shapers, an initiative of World Economic Forum that has presence in 400 cities across the world. She will be leading the Mumbai chapter as curator this year. “We plan to form a group of high-achieving young volunteers who will come together to create an impact in the city. Our focus is on sustainability right now,” she adds.
Meanwhile, another set of Upcycler’s Lab products for children aged between two and four will be launched in the next two to four months. The Upcycle Co’s motto is ‘Teach them young, teach them right’.
In the process Amishi Parasrampuria has learned a few invaluable lessons herself.
❖ A team of eight people does everything from designing to packaging and taking product feedback
❖ For projects, the team can be contacted at: upcyclerslab.com and theupcycleco.com