Dr Shambhavi Rajgopal with three special needs beneficiaries Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI: A group of Dubai residents is setting a heartening precedent with a unique community initiative under which they collect scrap material from local tailors, sew them into useful items and hand them over to various charities.

Called Save Scrap & Sew, the initiative was started by a lecturer, Dr Shambavi Rajagopal, last year.

The Indian expat, who has been in Dubai for over 25 years, told XPRESS the idea grew from a long-cherished personal habit of bringing home leftover fabric every time she got something stitched from her tailor, so she could put it to good use.

“On one such visit to my tailor last July, I noticed that he was trying to get rid of two big garbage bags. When I enquired about them, the tailor said the bags contained scrap which would go into the landfill. He said he had no choice but to discard it into a municipality garbage silo as he had no place for it in his tiny shop. Suddenly, he asked me if I wanted the scrap. Although I refused and returned home, the question set me thinking,” recalled Rajagopal.

She said the more she thought about it, the more she felt the need to do something about it. “I got talking with my family and friends and soon we were on to something. We decided to collect scrap from different tailors and sew it into bed sheets which we could then distribute among the needy. The effort gives us an opportunity to get together, do our bit for the environment and give back to society.”

Reuse and recycle

Thus began Save Scrap & Sew. “We started with a handful of friends and 5kg of material from two tailors. Some of the scrap was big, some small pieces. We would meet in one of our homes and go about ironing the pieces, sorting and cutting them, as a prelude to the actual stitching. We began with making bed sheets and slowly graduated to bags and pillows.”

As the call to “reuse and recycle” caught on, the group’s membership grew. Today over 40 residents meet at least three times a week in various parts of the city to sew from scrap. With school students, working mothers - and a father - also keen to be part of the initiative, Saturday sessions were also started.

As Rajagopal said: “There’s no reason why only women should be doing this. Men too need to de-stress, share a chat on something other than just their sales targets and office clients. The exercise of ironing, sorting and cutting fabrics and sewing something of utility from scrap provides instant gratification.” She said the sheets, bags and pillows are donated to various causes, including orphans, flood victims, needy labourers and school students in the UAE and abroad.

For more details, go to https://www.facebook.com/Save-Scrap-Sew-1609424209323890/