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Green by Goonj..

Goonj transforms last shreds of urban discarded cloth into basic needs, made by rural women, to save rural communities from disasters.

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Goonj is a 19 years old India based nonprofit (, turning urban India’s discard into a new currency for development work in rural India. All the surplus urban material lying idle in urban homes, offices, with retail brands etc. is collected and brought to the Goonj Processing Centers across India. Here wearable/usable cloth is sorted and packed (with other basic needs material) into individual packs for rural families. Out of the entire collected material, there is around 30 to 40% cloth which is not in a wearable condition including shreds of cloth. This completely useless cloth, which would otherwise end up in landfills, is sorted and reached to women in urban and rural India to make multilayered rough patch work quilts, reached to rural family kits as part of family Kits. This seemingly innocuous product is not just a powerful tool against winter for in families in village India, especially northern and central India where severe winters can mean 2 to 4 degree temperature.  These patch work quilts are playing a three pronged role therefore – fulfilling a basic but unfulfilled need of a village family who has little, saving vast quantities of cloth waste from going to landfills, providing employment,  income generation and economic independence to hundreds of un-skilled women who have little resources and opportunities for sustenance. The most beautiful part of this work is that the Family Packs (which the patch work quilts become a part of) are not given as charity to rural families, instead they are asked to work on any self identified neglected but useful community  issue, with their own wisdom and resources  and then the family packs are given as a reward  for their efforts.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)


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Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Mixed Apparel Textile

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Goonj annually deals with more than 3000 tons of urban discarded material out of which last year alone 99, 500+ patch work quilts and Aasans (sitting mats) were made from 3, 00,000+ kgs of last shreds of cloth waste (2016-17). Goonj also makes other products like schools bags from oversized jeans and clothes, pencil pouches, quilts, mats, sanitary pads, purses, files, vegetable bag, key chains, balls, skipping rope etc from urban discarded cloth. Women from nearby slums/villages make these quilts and other products which are included in comprehensive kits (Family kits, School kits, Dignity kits etc).

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Full-scale roll-out

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Indian cities today struggle with shrinking space due to growing consumerism result in the need to discard surplus material. Goonj transforms culture of giving in cities, making it more mindful about the needs and dignity of the receiver. In rural areas, turning these discarded cloth into useful product like patchwork quilt, with very little investment, or technology, yet fulfilling basic need for thousands of families & employing hundreds, is a worthwhile outcome & impact for a piece of cloth.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

The idea is scaling up organically as more people and organizations across India are contributing their waste cloth. The only challenge is support logistical costs like space, remunerations, transportation etc. As we move the processing work to rural India, we are trying to reduce the operational costs in some way. This would also mean more employment and livelihood to women in far flung villages, a huge challenge otherwise.

How is your idea innovative?

1. Takes the pressure off landfills in cities. 2. Addresses a need for urban and rural masses, creating a win win without straining anyone. 3. A Product that will last a rural family for 1-2 years is created. 4. Last shreds of discard creation employment and income without big investement, energy and resources, is a perfect example of circular innovation. 5. A long term sustainable and easily replicable idea in many parts of the world struggling with the growing gap between the cities

What inspired this idea?

We learnt from our rural experiences that livelihood and lack of employment and sustenance forces people to migrate. Women bear the burden of chores & also struggle for the basic. We also noticed that women get income the first thing they do is to educate their children & sustain their home as well.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Anshu Gupta founded GOONJ in 1999, with a mission to make clothing a matter of concern, and highlight it in the list of subjects in Indian development sector. He is an Ashoka and Schwab Fellow, and was conferred Ramon Magsaysay award in 2015.

In what city are you located?

Delhi, offices in 12 cities.

In what country are you located?


What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

Nonprofit organisation

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

Becoming Top Idea is one sure way to make this idea go viral. But most importantly, bring attention to neglected basic needs of impoverished communities. Today, many entrepreneurs who are doing wonderful developmental work may not understand technology so much yet bring ideas that deliver high impact with very low investment on multiple aspects, are a winner to address economies that cannot make high investments on technology & skill building for their impoverished populations.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Tanushri Shukla

So humbled to see us marked as an inspiration—your work has long been an inspiration for us at Chindi! We can only hope to someday have the kind of impact you have!

Photo of Pasang

Thank you! :)