We are traveling to India from September 26 to October 6. You can place an order during that period, but unfortunately you have to wait a while before you receive it. We do our best to process all orders as soon as possible after October 6.
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/Ecowings-travelling-to-India.png10801920Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2022-09-23 19:08:282022-09-23 19:09:18We are travelling
Ghazipur landfill park is located in a suburb of New Delhi. The official name of this area suggests that it is an idyllic spot for a picnic on a beautiful summer day. But it certainly isn’t! The nickname ‘Mountain of Shame’ indicates that it is a place that most Indians prefer to avoid.
3000 garbage dumps in India
Ghazipur is one of India’s 3,000 garbage dumps containing more than 800 million tons of waste in total. The waste mountain of Ghazipur has a height of more than 65 meters and is therefore higher than the Taj Mahal. Every day, 12,350 tons of waste are produced in Delhi, 690 tons of which are plastic. 55% of this ends up on 1 of the 3 overcrowded waste heaps of Delhi (Okhla, Ghazipur and Bhalswa). The other 45% ends up along the road, in the rivers, and on small local waste heaps.
The waste heaps contain large amounts of methane, which means that they can easily catch fire, especially in the summer when temperatures exceed 40 degrees. In 2020, parts of the mountain were on fire 15 times.
Monday 28 March 2022 it was that time again: a gigantic fire broke out. After 4 days, the 90 firefighters still had no control over the fire. The burning mix of household, biomedical and industrial waste causes enormous pollution of ground and surface water. In addition, air pollution (and CO2 emissions) is incalculable. The mouth masks that the firefighters are wearing will not stop much. In the wide area people have stinging eyes and can hardly breathe.
In the Netherlands you don’t hear or read anything about this, but the BBC did make a short report about it.
It has to be different
It is time for a better system for waste processing in Delhi. The organization Swechha India has been fighting for this for 20 years and has also made the above film to put this problem on the map. It is now the case that all the waste is literally thrown into one heap. Then waste pickers go through to fish out valuables. Thousands of families live on these garbage dumps under the most appalling conditions. And there are also a lot of children.
There are already initiatives in various places in India to do things differently. Indore, the city where the Ecowings workshop is located, is a forerunner in this regard. Since 2016, Indore has been separating waste and converting waste into usable products as much as possible. Converting discarded car inner tubes into high-quality bags is of course a good example of this. Indore has been named the cleanest city in India by the Ministry of Urban Development for three consecutive years.
What a bag can do
In the delusions of the day you sometimes forget why you do what you do. Anyway, this video puts me back into action mode. The waste problem in India is so huge! It may be a drop in the ocean to buy or sell a bag made of car tire, but still! Not only do you save a lot of CO2, but we also show that things can be done differently. In India there is still a world to be won in the field of awareness. That’s why we do it together!
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/delhi-Ghazipur.jpg613857Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2022-08-18 09:58:022022-09-09 10:23:38A mountain of CO2 shame
A river with white foam. Did Floddertje overflow the bath here? No, this is not the type of foam that you put in the bath and that will leave you nice and clean. On the contrary!
This picture is from the movie ‘Invisible Demons’ by Indian director Rahul Jain. I have great admiration for this director. He not only shows you the environmental situation in Delhi, but you really smell and feel it. Beautiful pictures, sometimes very close-up and sometimes very zoomed out.
As a child I had to take a 15 minute bus ride to school every morning. And I remember seeing islands of foam lying in the river and I used to think: oh, this is so dirty, maybe the adults will take care of it. And at some point I became an adult and I saw that the islands of foam only got bigger.
As an adult, he now contributes to a solution by imagining the message in such a way that it actually gets through. As an environmental activist you can tell 100 thousand times that the environmental situation in India is appalling and that it is really past twelve when it comes to climate change. But you need artists to make it really touch you!
The film is still in some cinemas this week. Go see him!
5 Years back Sunita has joined Ecowings with no experience in upcycling or in bag making process. Before joining Ecowings she was working as a maid and used to wash dirty utensils at different places to earn some livelihood as her economic conditions were not very good.
She has two sons and one daughter along with husband and mother in law who is suffering from paralysis. Because her economic condition is not good and her entire livelihood is dependent on her husband, she has to contribute to her family and shoulder several responsibilities. She is completely illiterate because she was never sent to school as her parents left her in the beginning of her childhood. In view of such circumstances it was extremely challenging to move forward in life and cope with all these problems all together.
Learning the skills at Ecowings
She joined Ecowings with very basic common understanding like an innocent child who had a bundle of energy but not having any sort of skills. We involved her in various upcycled tasks and she absorbed every single thing like a sponge and groomed herself, accepted the culture of Ecowings and started to shape herself in such a manner so that she can deliver some measurable outcome.
She was introduced to various hand tools and their functions, understanding the measurements, reading the scales and knowing the millimeters and inches etc. How to develop the patterns and create the panels for bags and accessories. These were the challenging tasks in terms of learning and exploring yet she took all the challenges and grasped all the basic things bit by bit. Today she is one of the most skilled craftswoman who has five years of experience in bag manufacturing and has become a valuable asset for Ecowings who not only leads in Ecowings but also takes up most of the international projects right from its inception.
Interview with Sunita
We asked the following questions and innocently she replied to our curiosities.
Sunita, what you like the most in your life?
Bhaiya, I like everything when I am at Ecowings, because every day I learn new things here. Ecowings gives me new challenges on daily basis and iI try to solve the problem as best as I can. I love the process of craftsmanship of bags and accessories. It makes me feel extremely good till the evening I remain here under the Ecowings premises. I have made something from my hand and eventually it will be packed by me only with Ecowings brand tag.
What do you do after getting the monthly salary?
I generally deposit my salary to my bank so that I can save it for my family. I am very much eager to put forward my kids in good schools and day would soon come when my daughter would get married so for the same I need to save money right from the beginning.
After joining Ecowings did you realize any incremental growth in your social and economic status?
Of course. I got raised three times. And on the festivals also we received good amount of money along with gifts and sweets. There is lot of flexibility with Ecowings as Uma didi understands us very deeply and supports us at all level.
What you want to do in future at Ecowings? What are your expectations?
I will continue and love to do good job. Learn new things and skills.
How people see you in your family when you go back to your home after finishing your Ecowings taks?
They expect lot many things. I had to cook food for people then so much pending house hold work like washing cloths and taking care of my mother in law etc.
Once you deliver the full project, what do you feel afterwards?
What is going to be next? Ready for the next job work. I don’t want to sit without any work.
What are your key learnings at Ecowings?
Many. I learnt how to make men’s belt, notebooks, bag panels cutting, bag detailing etc.
What is the best thing you like the most at Ecowings?
Environment! Earlier I used to work as a maid and used to wash kitchen utensils. People used to call me ‘Bai’ which I never liked. But when I joined Ecowings in our society people don’t call me “Bai”. I feel lot of respect within myself and sometimes people don’t believe as I work in a Bag company.
Do you have anything in your mind which you want to do at Ecowings?
I want to see more people around me. It is always a great feeling when lot many women are working together here. We enjoy that environment a lot.
It is time we put the most important pivot in the Ecowings web in the spotlight: Uma! She is in charge of the daily management of the Ecowings office. Uma is the wife of Kapil, the designer who founded Ecowings. Together they have 1 son, Lakshya.
If that ain’t love
When asked what Uma means for Ecowings, her loving husband replies:
“She has contributed incredibly in Ecowings and still the journey continues. My part is just to give birth to new products but those babies are getting wings and fly in the sky just because of Uma’s dedication and consistent effort in every single detail.
The sun rises with Ecowings and sun set happens with Ecowings and in between there is Uma.
I am not praising as she is my wife but I truly believe she is a good committed human being who wants to learn new things and puts her remarkable efforts. I don’t know any other lady who has such great determination for life and work.”
The many challenges
There are countless activities that are required when running a social enterprise such as Ecowings. On the production side, there is the supplier selection, material sourcing, supervising the workmanship, quality control. In addition, there are challenges related to international trade and export resolutions, certifications, banking and billing issues, inventory management, trade relationship management, packaging and much more.
But above all, managing the workforce is a major challenge: labor management, hiring new skills, skills training and development. Or as Kapil puts it:
The most crucial task for her is to bind all the craftswomen on one common skill level where they are expected to excel their skill set in the most precise manner. Understanding their psychology, listening their pain points, morally supporting them on every task and in their life, elevating their skillset, grooming their personality on daily bases. It’s the every day challenges which Uma exceptionally deals with. She excels her energy to produce nonstop results and outcomes.
Recently, Uma has received assistance from Sandhya, a lady who can also read, write and count. It can take over part of the supervision of production and quality control. But the major responsibility for running the Ecowings office rests with Uma. Hats off and many thanks to this amazing woman!
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/Uma-en-werknemer-Ecowings.jpg8761227Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2021-08-27 15:47:312021-08-27 17:23:01Uma: spider in the Ecowings web
Recently we did a little happy dance in both the Netherlands and India, because our workshop is open again! Everyone was overjoyed to see each other and get to work together. The timing couldn’t be better, because we have to push hard to produce enough for the busy end of the year period. We really had to send the employees home in the evening so that they could get back to work fresh and fruity the next morning.
India and corona
At first, corona seemed to literally blow over India due to the relatively young population, warm temperatures and the fact that a lot of people live outdoors. Last April it was even expected that sufficient group immunity had been built up in the country, unfortunately the 2nd wave came in hard. This hit like a bomb, especially in the densely populated cities. Healthcare in India was unable to cope with the tidal wave of new patients and, in particular, there was a severe shortage of oxygen. The situation is now much better. Infections are falling sharply and vaccination is in full swing. On June 29 of this year, more than 330 million Indians had already been vaccinated and 20% of the population had at least 1 injection. Source: Times of India.
Kapil and corona
Kapil, founder and driving force behind Ecowings in India was also affected by the virus. It was fortunate that he was staying at his parental home in Udaipur at the time, so that he was not alone. His brother, in particular, acted decisively to have Kapil admitted to hospital so that he could receive the necessary care. As a result, he is now completely the old one and he is once again committed to Ecowings for 200%.
Resilient and together
We are very happy and proud that we have been able to keep all permanent employees during the lockdown and that the salaries have been paid. The vast majority of temporary employees are also financially supported by Ecowings. The fact that we can open the doors again really feels like a bright spot after a dark period. You also get that feeling when you visit the renewed Ecowings website. Open design, clearly arranged and focused on a bright future.
Full steam ahead
The corona crisis has made it even clearer how important it is to allow as many underprivileged people as possible to earn a good living in a pleasant, safe and inspiring working environment. The unique interaction between India and the Netherlands plays a crucial role in this, because orders from the west allow production houses such as Ecowings to continue producing and continuity is guaranteed. Now and in the future.
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/WhatsApp-Image-2020-02-24-at-18.27.14.jpeg8231151Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2021-07-01 15:49:122022-02-09 15:50:21Ecowings emerges from the crisis
The impact of corona (or Covid19) on everyday life in India is huge. The vast majority of the Indian population works in the informal economy, which means that many of the workers are so-called day labourers. They get paid per day. And if there is no work, then there is no money. For the majority of these workers there is no social protection.
When India went into lockdown, the middle classes were forced to lock themselves in their homes. Many domestic helpers, drivers, etc. were sent home. Many businesses and shops closed. Projects came to a standstill. This of course meant that there was hardly any more employment for these day laborers. And prices for everyday food actually rose significantly.
In India, about a third of the population belongs to the so-called middle class. They are materially in good to very good shape. Some are extremely rich. And some of those extremely wealthy have also initiated a lot of large aid projects. Like Amitabh Bachcha, nicknamed ‘Big B’ – one of the richest and most famous Bollywood actors. He said he had spent about €250,000 on emergency aid, but that was not nearly enough according to public opinion! Nobles oblige!
A small stone
Ecowings has contributed to emergency aid for the less fortunate. During the lockdown, the Ecowings workshop also had to close. But the permanent employees are still paid. In addition, all women who worked at Ecowings on a temporary basis last year were contacted, and tailor-made assistance was offered to all of these women. Some had left for their native village, some had stayed in Indore and could be helped with food or money. But Ecowings also delivered immediate food aid. Because Himanshu Sharma – Kapil’s brother – works in the police, he was licensed to be on the streets during the lockdown. He has distributed food parcels on the street to the needy. They may be drops in the ocean, but every little bit helps.
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/Vrouwen-Ecowings-2.jpg10501400Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2021-03-07 20:34:502022-02-09 15:51:018 maart – International Women’s Day
https://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/Ecowings-vrouwen-India-aan-het-werk.jpeg546765Angelahttps://www.ecowings.nl/wp-content/uploads/logo-ecowings-durable.pngAngela2020-07-21 15:49:542022-10-21 15:51:012 top Ecowings members !
Kapil Sharma is the creative force behind Ecowings. He is responsible for the product development and design of Ecowings bags and accessories. Kapil has a passion for upcycling, nature conservation, innovation and traditional handicrafts. He is very motivated to make sure that the environment and people are treated better in India. Ten years ago, he started upcycling some waste streams to make usable products. Old truck tires turned out to be extremely suitable for this purpose and thanks to his knowledge and innovative talent, he has come up with a product line of excellent quality. Because of his large network of local craftsmen, he has managed to gather a professional team around him.
Kapil graduated in product design from the Symbiosis Institute of Design, Pune. Complemented by a diploma in graphic design and a diploma in electrical engineering. He currently works, alongside Ecowings, as an assistant professor at Avatika University – School of Design. He is very driven to transfer his passion and knowledge to the younger generation.
Kapil is married to Uma and together they have a son. He is a real family man with a big and social heart. In his spare time he enjoys doing yoga.
The commercial and organizational strength
Uma Sharma is co-founder of Ecowings in India. The day-to-day management, finances, international trade activities and logistics are in capable hands with her.
Uma has a master’s degree in HR management and marketing from Sikkim Manipal University. She was born in Kota, in Rajastan. She has been married to Kapil since 2011 and together they have a son, Lakshya. She loves to cook and is a convinced and outspoken vegan.
Sales and marketing in Europe
Angela Rooijmans joined Ecowings in 2014. After living in India for a few years, she became fascinated by the waste problem. It is her mission to support local social enterprises in India by finding a market for their products in Europe. Her office is located in Aalsmeer.
Angela has a master’s degree in Management Information Science and has recently started studying Religious Studies at the Free University. She is married and the mother of two adult sons. Her main hobbies are rowing and reading.