Meet Nirvaan, the teenager making a difference in the world of fashion and climate change

Did you ever think that the clothes we love might be part of the pollution around us?


The world of fashion adds a big chunk to the pollution we see around us. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) says that the fashion industry is accountable for around 8-10% of the total carbon footprint worldwide. And global clothes sales could increase by up to 65% by 2030, the World Bank suggests. 

Despite this, there's a glimmer of hope. A teenager named Nirvaan Somany decided to take a stand against the environmental toll of the fashion industry. 

Nirvaan's journey began when he read a United Nations article which stated that 10,000 litres of water are needed to produce a single pair of jeans. Upon learning this, he opened his closet and found 5 pairs of jeans, which meant he had 50,000 litres worth of water in his wardrobe! This left him shocked and he couldn't turn a blind eye to the environmental repercussions of clothing consumption.

The turning point came when during chilly Delhi winter, he observed his family donating blankets to those in need. Recognizing the temporary relief blankets provided, he foresaw the need for a long-lasting solution to combat the harsh winter nights in Delhi. By turning old denim into sleeping bags, he not only kept jeans from being thrown away but also gave the homeless a durable and cosy option to stay warm.

Nirvana pitched his idea at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and received positive feedback. When asked why denim, he says it has very good insulation properties, and it is tough and lasts long.

It was in 2019 that he came up with this idea, but then COVID came and he started working on transforming his idea into reality, teaming up with his mom, Shivani, who runs a clothing business. Together, they played around with different versions, cutting and sewing old jeans into various sizes until they figured out the perfect denim sleeping bag. Their hard work paid off, creating a product that was not only comfy but also sustainable.

Nirvaan didn't stop there. He went hands-on and slept on his porch during a winter night to test the comfort and effectiveness of the denim sleeping bags. He also gave it to his house help and security guards to try on. With some input from them, he made some changes and the bag was ready to be used. He went on to train some local tailors later on, who are now adept at making these sleeping bags.

Project Jeans

"Project Jeans - Blue to Green" was finally launched in 2022. Nirvana started a social media campaign and a website to spread the message and involve others to help with collection, distribution, and spreading awareness. He also ran a crowdfunding campaign which received a great response. Starting with just three donors, the word about his idea quickly spread, catching the attention and support of people all over the country.

The jeans used for the project come from different sources like schools, hospitals, housing societies etc. The process of making one sleeping bag involves seven old jeans. They are cleaned, washed, cut into strips and stitched with lining inside for comfort and a foam layer for insulation to ensure the final product stays warm during winter. 

The lining is filled using fabric scraps from his mother’s boutique, creating a sustainable and cost-effective production cycle. 

To make the project reach more people, they set up collection centres in cities like Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune. They also teamed up with corporations through their CSR initiatives, worked with the Robinhood Army to give out sleeping bags, and connected with schools, colleges, hospitals, and businesses to make it possible to gather more old jeans and get more support.

Nirvaan has also hired a few women workers from Rajokri, a settlement in Delhi, who stitch these sleeping bags. So, the project not only addresses environmental concerns but also contributes to community empowerment.

To date, "Project Jeans" has distributed 2,000 bags, saving an estimated 120 million litres of water and repurposing over 4 lakh kg of carbon emissions which would have been required to make these bags otherwise. The initiative has reached international shores, sending 200 sleeping bags to Turkey and Syria in 2023 to aid those affected by an earthquake.

Beyond his 'Project Jeans,' Nirvaan goes the extra mile for the environment. He spreads awareness through his monthly newsletter, Environotes, sending 6,000 copies to kids in government schools in Delhi. He wants to make sure they know about the impact that the fashion industry has on the environment.

Nirvaan doesn't stop there. He also talks to school students and corporate employees to make them aware of the pollution caused by the fashion industry, something that often gets overlooked.

His efforts didn't go unnoticed. In 2023, he was honoured with the Diana Award, named after Princess Diana, recognizing his positive impact on society. Looking ahead, Nirvaan plans to study sustainability in college while continuing his work with 'Project Jeans,' hoping to keep denim from ending up in landfills.

In Nirvaan's own words, "Every child around the world should have clean water, fresh air, and a warm bed to sleep in." His message is all about making smart choices as consumers, asking everyone to think before buying or getting rid of clothes. His story isn't just about turning old jeans into something new; it's proof of how one young person can make a big difference in the fight against climate change.

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Meghna is a highly motivated and experienced freelance content creator with a Master's degree in History and ongoing studies in International Relations from Amity University, Noida. Her commitment lies in making valuable contributions to discussions surrounding climate change and other challenging social concerns. With a strong background in research and writing, Meghna is adept at conducting research, synthesizing information, and creating compelling content that informs, educates, and engages her readers. She has contributed to several academic journals in the past, and her writing reflects a deep understanding of complex social problems and their potential solutions. Meghna's expertise in writing and research, combined with her strong work ethic and attention to detail, make her an asset to any organization or individual looking to create high-quality content that resonates with their target audience. In summary, Meghna is a talented and committed freelance content creator who bring

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