The Fabric of our Lives One of the byproducts of middle class prosperity has been the proliferation of garments in our wardrobes. I remember, as a child, my mother having one lovely plummy-purple silk saree, with a thin gold line at the border, which she wore for all winter weddings. For summer functions she wore a mauve chiffon with a cream lace edging. The rest of the time she wore pretty printed synthetics and a few ‘home’ cotton sarees. For family weddings, we got new clothes, but they were brand new ‘everyday’ clothes, no single-use glitter and bling. I once read about a man who was very frugal in his needs. At any given time he would have two cotton dhoties that he alternately wore until they were no longer wearable, when he would hang them up as curtains on his window. Once they were too threadbare for that, he would use them to wipe the floor of his dwelling. Once unusable as mops, he would roll the shreds of fabric into wicks for his lamp. Given the pressures of waste and greed on Mother Nature, many wise souls are trying to refurbish used fabrics. Friends and family exchange garments, and traditional art forms involving recycled fabric, like Kantha work and patchwork are regaining popularity. We used to use layers of worn out silk sarees as the top part of cotton filled quilts. The NGO Goonj has been doing excellent work in this field, with complete utilization of donated materials. Imagine, if you will, a large pile of clothing. (Perhaps you are Marie Kondo-ing your wardrobe!) Sort through and segregate what is wearable, either by self or others. Keep aside what you think you will wear, put the rest in the ‘To Donate’ pile. Identify the flaws in the unwearable pieces. Can they be rendered wearable by simple repairs like the replacing of buttons or simple darning/patching? If so, segregate into the repairable pile. Your favourite Ikat top has, by some tragedy, developed holes in strategic places. It can no longer be worn, even with repairs. You look at it. And at another top which has faded in several places. Can these two combine into a pair of cushion covers? Or shopping bags? Bags sound more useful, especially since we are trying to reduce the use of plastic bags. Layering the Ikat over the faded fabric gives a pleasing effect. The small, visible holes can be concealed with simple embroidery. Are you brave enough to unpack your sewing machine, which has not seen the light since it was packed up for your move from Kolkata, almost seven years ago? If yes, you are a true champion. If not, go to the roadside tailor who sits under a tree outside the housing society gates. A fabric bag or two will come to life. Become a bag lady, i.e. one who always has a bag or two in her handbag or pocket or in her vehicle. Make bags. Give bags. Use bags.