Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Nature Doesn't Know Waste

I came across a brilliant story last week - and let's face it, last week was a bit short on good news. But this is all about a gifted textile artist and eco-innovator called Lakshmi Menon. I am in awe of what she has achieved in a few years- she's well known cross the subcontinent, but I think deserves far greater recognition.

In the summer of 2018, Kerala was ravaged by floods. The fishermen particularly lost their livelihoods. Lakshmi set up a campaign, "Friendship" to raise money to help them. “It’s time to repay these brave fishermen and their families by offering these saviours a ship full of gratitude - there are 230K fishermen, and 95% of the Keralans consume fish” She persuaded schoolchildren to make 36,000 paper boats to raise awareness- and raise funds.

She visited a town where sarees were woven- and saw piles of stinking, unsaleable fabrics. And came up with the idea of the Chekutty doll. [shortened from Chendamangalam Kutty which translates to the child who outlived mud. It is followed by the tagline, 'Keralam onnai thunniketti,' which means Kerala stitched it together, metaphorically relating it to the way the state emerged from the floods.

She started the Wicksdom Initiative-so people in OAP homes can make an income by rolling wicks for candles. Another project involves making disposable pens which will actually grow into trees when discarded! Then she saw a homeless family sleeping under a bridge - the baby just lying on the sand. She felt a responsibility to do something - so started another project making bedrolls from scrap fabrics.This scheme she called Shayya the Sanskrit word for mattress

And in 2020, Pandemic |Year? Lakshmi became aware that factories in India were producing thousands of items of PPE for shipment around the world - and that these factories produced a lot of waste. She also discovered that the Covid Hospitals were struggling to find mattresses for patients to lie on - because after use by a covid patient, the bedding was burned. 50,000 beds in Kerala hospitals needing mattresses. As a designer, she was aware of how much scrap was being created while tailoring PPE kits. “My grandmother always says that nature doesn’t know waste. So I always try to use the concept of upcycling in all my innovations,”  She said that the dots almost joined up by themselves.

Watch the two brief videos and be encouraged- this woman combines her technical skills and entrepreneurial spirit with a commitment to zero-waste and eco-innovation. God bless you, Lakshmi, for what you are doing to make this world a better place! Thank you


  1. What a wonderful, heart-warming story! I'm in awe of her "can do" spirits and ability to come up with solutions to the problems she sees around her! Thank you for posting about it, Angela.

  2. What an amazing woman! The world needs more of her!

  3. What an inspiring woman. There must be ways in England that waste such as that can be recycled.

  4. What a wonderful lady Lakshmi is.

  5. What a wonderful story! Lakshmi is a wonderful woman and she has seen a need and met it!

  6. Brilliant. What an inspiring women. Thanks for sharing this amazing story.

  7. Isn't it a great story! Please share it...


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