Ojaswi Baidya, a post-graduate in Business Management, had to do something for the environment along with her education. In no time, her dream found the perfect way when she attended the Green Innovation Program organized by the Nepal Entrepreneur Hub and the World Wildlife Fund. In this program, they had to present ideas to set up a green enterprise each with a focus on how one could re-use the things or wastes in the surrounding. Ojaswi first thought of working on recycling plastic into something new and usable. However, after a lot of research on social media, she decided to make use of old tyres instead.
The used tyres occupy much space in our surroundings, don’t decay easily and contribute to pollution when burnt. With such tyres she thought of up-cycling them and making various materials such as tables and chairs out of them. Her idea won the first prize. And that’s where the journey of Tyre Treasures began. She now manages the venture with Loonibha Manandhar.
Ojaswi’s family, at first, wasn’t supportive of her decision to continue her work with tyres. But when she explained to her parents and made them understand the huge impact she was making, her parents were proud of her. From 2016, she started visiting a lot of workshops and collected tyres for her new green enterprise. She began to shape those tyres to beautiful tables and chairs. To make the tyres more attractive, she styled the tyres by using Nepali traditional styles such as knitting around the tyres using jute thread or dried leaves around it.
Why did you adopt the knitting method of working?
After doing a lot of research on how and in which way the things in our environment can be used, I discovered a water grass (patter) from Terai. The foliage was found to be slightly more flexible and could be woven on the exterior of the tyres. We were in the process of learning and still are while trying to figure out how it would look like, and after being woven we found it extremely attractive.
Who did you contact for knitting and how did you convince them to shape the knit in the tyre?
We had the idea but we knew nobody who could knit. One day I went to the Nepal Knotcraft Center, which was doing handicraft works. After I told them about my idea, I got acquainted with Sarita and Jayanti didi, who were doing the knitting work. Since they worked on it together, we named our first product ‘SarJayanthi’.
What kind of materials do you use when making a tyre table or a chair? What criteria do you have when choosing products?
Since we are a green enterprise, I try to make my product environment-friendly as much as possible. For outdoor i.e. outdoor table & chairs, I use iron and steel then paint them. But for indoor and interiors, we dye the jute cord in a natural (organic) manner and weave around the tyre in a graceful way. We also weave around the tyres, using our naturally found foliage. As my efforts, as a responsible individual, can help to keep our environment clean and tidy, I try to be very careful when choosing materials for my products.
What kind of feedback do people give to your product and business as a green enterprise? How are you attracting customers to buy your product?
There are some reactions like ‘what is she doing!’. But many have also liked my work very much; they are amazed by my work. In particular, those who know how to protect the environment, they like and even encourage my work. Because buying furniture is a big investment, many people do think that buying a sofa is better than tyres. However, with social media and various exhibitions, more people have come to realize the benefits of using recycled products and also the number of customers is growing.
What kind of problems did you have while working and how did you solve them?
The problem is that we can never get rid of the problems. There is some new problem every day. It is so because we’re still in the beginning phase. The first challenge for me was to spread awareness among people about reasons to buy upcycled furniture, and it still is. Everyone is looking for a good yet cheap one. Meanwhile, spreading awareness about green enterprise is a challenge in itself.
Another challenge is in terms of finances; I have to go to different workshops and buy tyres. Managing a staff of 20-25 itself is tough and the management of the market is far more challenging.
But now, it has become much easier, comparatively, to make people understand our work and products through social media and by participating in various exhibitions. Our products are used by various cafes like Pangra, Redmud, and it helps in the promotion. In addition, there is increasing demand for domestic purposes to make the house look attractive and that also expands our customer range.
Tyre Treasure is a green enterprise, what do you look forward to in the coming days and what are your future plans?
We had initially targeted hotels and restaurants, but now the demand in households is also increasing. Our future plan is to meet this demand. We also made decorative materials using light in glass bottles, and now its demand is also increasing. But to make it, even more, environment-friendly, we are already working on plans to add solar energy for lights on decorative pieces.
I’ve taken tyre treasure as a business or rather a green enterprise with the ability to bring a change in the environment. I see great potential for it. But for a green enterprise like ours to thrive, educated people need to have a better understanding and similar beliefs. With more work done, the green enterprise can provide a model for a good and exemplary way to protect the environment in South-Asia.