Meet The 16-Year-Old Indian Transforming Old Jeans Into Sleeping Bags For The Homeless

The Global Indian (L); Better India (R)
The Global Indian (L); Better India (R)

Today’s youth is more concerned about the environment and proactively working towards its conservation than any average person from the previous generations. It took a 15-year-old schoolchild named Greta Thunberg to open our collective eyes to the crucial climate change crisis at hand. Young climate activists like Greta, Xiye Bastida, Isra Hirsi, and more are known globally for their contributions. However, today we are going to explore the inspiring story of a young environmentalist much closer to home.

16-year-old Nirvaan Somany from New Delhi started his endeavor, Project Jeans with the objective of helping homeless people withstand the unforgiving chilly nights during winter. He had seen his household members donate jackets to the homeless before and so he thought of a solution along similar lines.

The eureka moment occurred to him when he learned that 10,000 liters of water are needed to make just one pair of jeans. That is a staggering amount of water that could have had several alternate and beneficial uses. Nirvaan wanted to come up with a solution that not only helped the homeless population but also addressed the water concerns surrounding jeans production.

He observed that while denim jeans lose their fashion quotient over time, they are still durable and have excellent insulating properties. He came up with the ingenious idea to turn denim jeans into sleeping bags to help homeless people keep warm.

Nirvaan Somany
Nirvaan SomanyThe Global Indian
Project Jeans provides employment to women
Project Jeans provides employment to womenBetter India
The Global Indian (L); Better India (R)
Shaunak Sen's Gritty Documentary Depicts The Nocturnal Struggles Of Delhi's Homeless

Nirvaan's mother is employed in the clothing industry, providing him with convenient access to someone knowledgeable in the field. Over a period of six months, he managed to amass a collection of more than 1,400 pairs of jeans, which he used to create over 100 sleeping bags.

Each sleeping bag requires seven pairs of jeans. After removing the belt section, Nirvaan cuts the legs into strips and adds a lining of fabric, as well as a layer of foam for insulation. To ensure the sleeping bag's effectiveness in protecting against the cold, the Somanys constructed a prototype. In addition to this innovative project, Nirvaan has also created employment opportunities for ten women who are involved in the production of these sleeping bags. These women are capable of making one bag per day, resulting in a monthly production of 300 bags. The cost of each bag is Rs. 800, which covers the tailors' wages, the foam, and the lining fabric.

Old denims turned into a sleeping bag
Old denims turned into a sleeping bagBetter India

I want to create awareness about the fashion industry. Therefore, instead of just donating these bags myself, I am selling to interested people. While buying this, they will learn about why denims should not be thrown. Many people are willing to buy them.

Nirvaan Somany, speaking about wanting people to become eco-conscious through his initiative, in an interview with Better India

Even though Nirvaan’s project initially started on a small scale, soon its popularity increased through word of mouth as the public recognised the brilliance of the solution, he had come up with. With each passing day, more people across the country have been donating jeans to the project.

Currently, Project Jeans operates collection centres in various cities throughout India. Although the initiative has successfully sold a portion of the sleeping bags, it mainly depends on crowdfunding to cover its expenses.

Sleeping bags going out for distribution
Sleeping bags going out for distributionBetter India

A 16-year-old boy exhibiting such earnest empathy, awareness, and social entrepreneurial spirit and ushering in real change in our country fills us with immense joy and pride, all the while inspiring us to do our part towards the conservation of our home planet and the protection of its inhabitants.

Find out more about Project Jeans here.