A hand up, not a hand out

India has

  • 1.3bn people
  • 900m rural inhabitants
  • 61m in extreme poverty
  • 250,000 tonnes of daily urban waste
  • 1 ‘circular economy’ solution

Turning indifference into positive change; waste into economic empowerment.

Indian City urban waste

The Global Poverty Clock shows that more than 61m people across India are living in extreme financial poverty.  Whichever measurement you use, that’s equal to almost the entire UK population living on just 44-75 rupees (50-80p) per day.  There are certainly millions more existing on only a few extra daily rupees.

At the same time, India is becoming increasingly urbanised according to the United Nations, with 34% of its 1.3bn population in towns and cities. That still leaves almost 900 million people living in rural, mainly agricultural areas – the largest rural population in the world.

With increased urbanisation comes waste (discard): according to research, some 250,000 tonnes of solid waste is generated daily by India’s towns and cities.  That means the rise of a ‘disposable society’, where it becomes easier to throw away and replace items than repair or re-use them.  From electrical and white goods, to clothing and textiles, and even school kids’ pens and books.

We want to change this and turn the negatives into positives.

A circular argument

There is a solution based on finding a way to re-use urban discard.  Not only does it reduce the environmental impact of waste, but also reduces financial poverty and empowers rural communities.

It’s called a ‘circular economy’.

In this case, creating a ‘circular economy’ means taking urban discard to rural communities, as reward or empowerment, for self-development of local infrastructure. Often, the discard itself is used to generate income directly or improve health and welfare.  One charity is leading the way in developing this model of a dignity-based ‘circular economy’: Goonj.

Taking on the challenge

TheGoonj textile recycling project Trans-India Challenge is aiming to raise £200,000 to support Goonj’s work and highlight the dignity-based model to audiences outside India.  Reflecting Goonj’s own philosophy – it’s a hand-up, not a hand-out.

More than that, a proportion of the funds will go directly to academic research aimed at proving the benefits of this model and providing new evidence that will support the work of Goonj and similar organisations in the ‘circular economy’ and social regeneration sectors.