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Socks & Towels From Bamboo? IIT-Graduate Duo Makes It Possible

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Often the cotton socks we wear all day, leave our feet in painful blisters. Athletes and fitness enthusiasts who follow rigorous training regimes find their feet with black toes and calluses at the end of the day. As of now, cotton is the most favoured material for socks and sports apparels despite its drawbacks, mainly because there is no other viable alternative.

However, IIT-Roorkee graduates Prateek Sharma and Siddharth Jain have incorporated an unexpected material in socks – bamboo. Surprised? The two expert engineers have deployed some cutting-edge design to manufacture bamboo socks which are softer, stronger and more durable than cotton or linen socks. Their organisation, Heelium, are also producing plush bath and hand towels woven from bamboo fibres.

Bamboo in socks?

Of late, bamboo is rapidly catching up in the organic domain as an eco-friendly raw material, particularly for construction purposes or for smaller household items. The sturdiness, durability and antimicrobial properties of bamboo make it a far better alternative than plastic, wood or metal. But to introduce bamboo in the textile sector is a huge breakthrough, which the duo have accomplished successfully. Talking to Efforts For Good, Heelium co-founder Prateek explained how they achieved this impossible while ensuring a global quality standard for all their products.

“I have pursued my Masters in Sports engineering from Sheffield, UK and also worked with global sports brands like Adidas. On top of it, I already had a background in materials engineering from IIT. I knew about athletic apparels, I knew about bamboo – I brought the two together,” shares Prateek. He and Siddharth have been friends since their graduation days. Their love for sports brought them together. A few years later, when Prateek was toying with the idea of using bamboo fibre in sports clothes, he roped in Siddharth as his partner. Together, they launched Heelium in September 2017 as a pilot project. After a few trial runs and series of surveys among the public, they marketed the bamboo socks around February 2018, followed by the towels a few months later.

Why are bamboo socks better?

The readers must be wondering by now why one should go for bamboo socks. Prateek answers, “Bamboo has natural thermoregulatory properties which keep your feet warm in winters and cooler in summers. The material is way better than cotton in terms of breathability, comfort and lesser friction – which are absolute necessities for athletic socks. The antibacterial nature of bamboo fibre is an added advantage.”

Heelium socks are made from young bamboo shoots from which thin filaments of fibre are segregated, processed and threaded. The socks and towels are knitted or woven from these threads. “We have also created soft fabrics from the fibre filaments which we are using for our t-shirts and other clothes. They will be launched very soon in the market,” Prateek informs.

“Customers are our contributors”

The founders have a unique way of curating their unconventional products. When the talented creators conceptualise any design, they take the pilot product to a set of customers. Based on their feedback, the product design is finalised. “This process is also helping in our marketing through word of mouth,” Prateek shares.

Though initially Heelium was launched exclusively for sportspersons, the duo soon found commoners of all ages loving their products. To diversify their consumer base, they customised the product designs according to everyone’s needs.

Heelium in South Korea

Heelium sources their bamboo mostly from Tirupur and other bamboo-rich zones of South India, though they operate with a towel-manufacturing unit in Ludhiana, Punjab as well. The bamboo innovations of this Pune-based start-up have gained quite some international attention, and currently, they are operating an R&D unit in South Korea as well.

The unique idea has received awards and recognitions aplenty from all over India. The company has also received seed funding and technical support from premier institutions like IIT-Bombay, IIM-Ahmedabad and CIIE (Centre for Innovation Incubation and Entrepreneurship). “We are also coordinating with the Department of Science and Technology, Central Government for a special type of athletic shoes,” reveals Prateek. The duo hopes more people can switch to using bamboo as a cloth material and realise its advantages.

For more information on Heelium bamboo socks and towels, visit their website http://heelium.in/

Also Read: Move Over ‘Siri’ & ‘Alexa’, This Futuristic Glove Will Help Millions To Communicate With Anyone

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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families
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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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2,00,000 meals served
Emergency funds sent to 350 families

Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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