F.A.C.E Bangladesh

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Beyond the Loom

The "Beyond the Loom" project, a visionary initiative funded by the Paul Polak Innovation Fund at iDE's Bangladesh Country Program, has successfully transformed plastic waste into valuable livelihood opportunities within a condensed three-month timeframe. The project's core objective was to utilize traditional techniques, such as wooden spindles (Charka) and handloom weaving, to upcycle plastic wrappers into a wide range of daily utility items, including fashion accessories, pouches, handbags, and wallets. This innovative endeavor simultaneously addressed the challenges of plastic waste management, created employment for local artisans, and contributed to a cleaner environment. The project's journey began by identifying communities in Ukhiya Upazila of Cox's Bazar that shared a commitment to sustainability and self-reliance. Rigorous assessments were conducted to evaluate community readiness and willingness to collaborate, resulting in the active engagement of three communities: Utor Pukiriya, Hatirghona, and Kashiarbil Hindupara. In our selection process, we consider various components, including the interest of the women's group, their willingness to enhance their skill set, the formation of savings groups, and a needs assessment. During our journey, the Utor Pukuriya and Telipara team did not demonstrate sufficient enthusiasm. Unfortunately, we had to discontinue our collaboration with them and continued our efforts with Hatirghona and Kashiarbil Hindupara. The process involved mobilizing women artisans through savings initiatives and product creation. With support from Garbageman and connections to local waste collectors' associations, the project sourced plastic materials and contributed to the reduction of waste plastic in the communities. Collaboration between architects, designers, and artisans led to the creation of 'Plyarn' (plastic yarn) and the development of sample products using various weaving techniques. Workshops, skill development training, and local exhibitions further amplified the project's impact. Artisans underwent comprehensive training, and specialized training for loom weavers in Hindu Para instilled confidence and transformed lives. The project delivered essential materials, including operation procedures, training modules, and sample products, emphasizing the commitment to skill development and product quality. As a successful pilot project, "Beyond the Loom" sets a strong precedent for future initiatives. With gained experience and a solid foundation, the project is poised to accomplish even more if future opportunities arise. Ultimately, the project envisions a sustainable future where creativity and environmental responsibility empower local communities, fostering a cleaner, greener world in Ukhiya.

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