Neighbours, Suni and Rama, have come to hand over washed and dried milk sachets. “Once again I will wash the sachets with detergent”, says Leelamma Mathew who Recycles Trash to Elegant Home Decor.
Her neighbours collect used milk sachets, wash and give them to Leelamma. The 67-year-old makes a mental calculation of how to put the trash to good use. She then washes them again in detergent and creates mats, stools, slippers, handbags and carry bags.
How she recycles trash to elegant home decor?
She doesn’t like throwing away anything, milk sachets, plastic covers, banana fibre and old sarees. “Before throwing out anything in the garbage, I think thrice about the possibilities of recycling the trash into useful products”. So ear buds got a new lease of life as beautiful wall hangings.
When she goes out of her house, she will collect whatever trash she finds and transform them into classy products. She made a fabulous bag from the plastic bags thrown away from shops.
The perfectionist attitude
Leelamma is a perfectionist who likes to exhibit only the finished products. The basket being made with banana fibre was not displayed as the product was incomplete. “Banana fibre cannot be dried in the rainy season,” she said with a little remorse.
The perfect finishing of the products leaves one clueless about what trash went into the making of the product. “While changing the flooring of our house, the labourer threw away the box straps that came with the packaging of the tiles. I collected the box straps and made them into bags and table mats”.
What makes her work unique is her aesthetic sense? The finished products including hand bags, stools and show pieces can give a nice competition to products displayed in any elegant swanky home décor show rooms. The choice of colour combinations gives the finished products a classy and glamorous appeal.
Who is Leelamma
In her school days she learned tailoring and stitched clothes in a small way. Once she was free from the responsibility of rearing the children and nursing the elderly of the family, she learned embroidery and ceramic painting. She then taught the skill to a number of girls who came to her for guidance.
She says she can just look at a product and replicate it on her own. In that way she has done bead works and plastic bag making by just having a glance of the work.
Her interest turned to recycling trash material three years ago, when she saw garbage accumulating in the public places in her village. She doesn’t even throw away broken glass pieces. “While cementing boundary walls we mixed all the broken glass pieces collected till then with cement.”
Words spread in the village about Leelamma’s efforts to reduce waste. A nearby school invited her to teach the children how to recycle trash to elegant usable products.
Initially her family was reluctant about her work, but now they are very supportive. For her, family comes first. Her family consists of husband, two children and grandchildren. Because of widespread demand asking her to teach how to make the products, her grandson is helping her create YouTube videos.
In this age of Climate Change, managing waste, recycling and reusing is a matter of global concern. Leelamma’s God gifted talent is inspiring, to mitigate carbon footprint and spread awareness about slowing down global warming.