Imagine walking by the street or on a beach and seeing piles of garbage that covers up stretches of land. Well, most people don’t even notice the garbage anymore because they have become a common sight and people feel that they’re an inevitable part of their life. Then there are those who will walk right through the garbage, feel bad, disgusted, and forget about it the next minute. In a society that focuses on the style of their bathing suit when the world is about to drown, there are few who genuinely want to think outside the “Me and mine” box. Aparna S, a 23-year-old girl from Kollam, Kerala is one such person who sees beauty even on littered streets and lakesides and turns wreckage into beautiful crafts.
Aparna is a resident of Munroe Thuruthu in Kollam and her zest for handicrafts intrigues everyone who knows her. Right from childhood, Aparna loved crafts and when she grew up, she decided to turn her passion to profession. She’s a successful terracotta jewelry maker and now she sells the crafts that she makes out of bits and scraps from the garbage. Read on to know about Aparna and her mission that turns garbage into gold.
From Jewelry Making To Bottle Crafts
Aparna started making terracotta jewelry during her undergraduate days and started selling them to her friends, teachers, and acquaintances from college. The fame of her beautiful jewelry pieces spread like a wildfire and became a huge hit within no time. When more orders started to pour in, Aparna decided to sell them through social media under the brand name Rudra.
About a year ago, Aparna realized that there was a huge number of glass bottles that were littered near the Ashtamudi lake side, close by her home. The Ashtamudi Kayal (lake) is one of Kerala’s most beautiful and popular lakes and just like most of the water bodies in our country, it suffers from the actions of the mindless population that it sustains. “While these were definitely littered around the entire area, I’d noticed that most of these bottles were quite pretty. Whenever I passed this way, I would collect the bottles with the intention of upcycling them creatively. I started with simple drawings and later progressed to art techniques like decoupage as well as calligraphy,” she says.
Soon, Aparna started collecting glass bottles from the streets and lakesides to paint over them and turn them into beautiful crafts. When the bottles started piling up in her backyard, she decided to sell them through Facebook under the name Quppi. Quppi is a fancy avatar of the word Kuppi which means bottle in Malayalam. You can also buy these beautifully crafted bottles by contacting her on Instagram.
And just like her terracotta jewelry, Aparna’s Quippi shot to fame and garnered an instant fan base. “It was encouraging as I began getting a lot of orders. While I was happy that everyone loved my products, what made me happier was the fact that the areas from where I was picking these discarded bottles were slowly becoming cleaner. My efforts were successful in not only making the lakeside more beautiful but also in inspiring others. Seeing me in action, people across Kollam started collecting discarded bottles and would supply these to me for upcycling. The change was happening through one simple act!” says Aparna.
Towards A Bigger Goal
If you thought that Aparna upcycled bottles littered by people on the streets and stopped at that, you’re wrong. The success of Quippi made her realize how she can spread the word to the world and encourage other people to do what she’s doing. Earlier this year in March, Aparna and her friends organized a clean-up drive in the city. “A lot of people joined us in this initiative, and by the end of it, we managed to collect about a truckload worth of bottles. They helped with not just the collection of the bottles but also cleaning these for my use later,” she says.
Since the drive went well, she decided to organize another clean-up drive in the Ashtamudi lakeside on World Water Day, on March 22nd. Students from colleges as well as schools along with their teachers and authorities from the Health Department joined hands with Aparna and her friends for the drive. After collecting the material, they assembled in a nearby park to clean and work on the material they collected. With the supplies that Aparna had set up on a small stall in the park, the participants of the drive helped in crafting the material they collected. The same day, they managed to sell everything that they crafted and even got good returns for their effort.
“While my initiative was never profit-oriented, the returns from the sales had been really heartening. None of my drives has been powered by any sponsors or corporate backing. I do it purely out of a passion for craft and through that, for our environment,” Aparna explains.
Aparna plans to uplift survivors of sexual abuse and human trafficking at the Nirbhaya shelter home by teaching them her bottle craft techniques. Did you find Aparna’s story inspiring? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.