In 2020, the team at eCoexist started to experiment with the thought of recycling the damaged the clay idols that were with us to check whether this was a possible option. We tested out the material in house and also approached ceramic experts in Pune and Ahmedabad to check about the feasibility of this idea.
We dried and powdered the clay sludge we collected after immersing the clay idols in water. Thsi powder was sent back to a few artisans and we asked them to make new idosl from the powder to see how it would perform.
This initial experiment led to a pilot production of idols that we then floated in the market the next year 2021. This time around we spoke to people about the concept and introduced the campaign to Punekars for the first time. We also collected clay sludge back from a few citizens and were surprised to see that it was very well recieved.
We also tested the market to see if clients would be open to buying idols made of recycled clay and were happy with the positive response. In this way, we were convinced that the idea was valid and could definitely be implemented at a larger scale.
We then spoke to various artisans in our network and checked if they would be willing to accept the clay sludge or recycled clay powder. We were happy to discover that the idea of recycling the clay was not new to them, as they routinely did this with their own damaged stocks. However they had a few main concerns
- Who would collect the clay to bring it back to them ?
- Would the market be willing to buy idols made of recycled clay?
- Would the clay come back along with a lot of other garbage ?
In 2022, eCoexist invited several organisations in Pune to join hands with us to make this a city wide campaign. Pune would be the first city to implement this at such a large scale and we were overwhelmed with the willingness of everyone to come together to make it happen.
From an initial target of 3 tonnes our aim soon grew to a collection of 10 tonnes in Pune city and eventually we crossed this mark as well.