AAt the height of the pandemic in the Indian state of Kerala, fashion designer Lakshmi Menon, 46, heard that every new Covid care facility had to have 50 beds. Mattresses were in short supply. Each time a patient is discharged, the mattress must be cremated. “I thought, it’s a lot of mattresses and a lot of heat,”Pablo Menon.
Menon’s solution was to collect mountains of plastic parts from factories that make PPE, all the bits left over after cutting. The women then braid the pieces into 6-foot-long rope-like braids. The braids are laid in a zigzag and the ends are tied together. The result is a lightweight, soft, washable and hygienic mattress for just Rs 300 (£33), half the price of a regular one.
Women fromArawakanv near Kochi, where Menon lives on a rubber plantation, get jobs, the environment is protected, and Covid clinics get mattresses – “shayya”In Sanskrit.
The idea of using waste came to him when he was driving to Kochi in February and saw children sleeping on the road. A few days later, he visited a friend who owns a fashion house and saw piles of scrap fabrics of different sizes.
“That’s when I thought I could use braiding to make mattresses for the homeless. Braiding allows you to use each piece of fabric of different sizes. You can even incorporate the slightest bit and everyone knows how to do ” heraid, ”hePablo.
In March, it manufactured 20 mattresses and delivered them to homeless families. Then the crash happened. His friends in design and fashion lost their business overnight. The workers were laid off and things looked bleak.
Menon forgot about fabric mattresses, until she went to a friend’s tailoring unit in July and saw that he had started making PPE. In the corner was a mountain of plastic pieces. Menon’s eyes gleamed.
“I picked them up and found they were cleaner, softer, and dust-free than fabric scraps. It was the best material I could have” heshed for, ”hePablo.
Her friend was very happy when Menon took the pieces. He had been struggling” heth how to get rid of them because burning them was out of the question.
At the same time, Kerala, overwhelmed by the pandemic, ordered the creation of 50-bed Covid centers across the state and village councils scrambled to find enough mattresses.
Aside from the Covid centers that have purchased them, Menon is working” heth NKhayyamprovide shayyas to homeless and poor sleeper shelters on the principle that “everyone deserves a good night’s sleep.” India’s 1.7 million homeless people normally sleep on the floor, usually on a thin mat.
Students in India wEnactspart of Enactus, the international non-profit organization created by the accounting firm KPMG, is working to make the cushion” hedely available.
“We also think yoga centers might be interested in purchasing them as they are soft and light and rollStarted”Pablo IEnacts Pabla, Enactus’ chief operating officer at Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies.
Menon is unlikely to face a raw material shortage. India has become the world’s second-largest PPE manufacturer,” heth more than 1,000 manufacturers producing 4.5 million pieces a day, the country’s textile ministry announced thshay yak.
Menon shayya has been picked up by UN staff who” hell include it in a list of innovative Covid ideas that can be easily replicated.
Several Indian corporations have also contacted her. “These large companies have to meet their corporate social responsibility goals and the mattress provides a good way to provide income for rural women in a sustainable way” hethout the need for any equipment. Nothing really. Just” Menontle space, ”MenonPablo.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism