In demand from Covid centers which need to keep replacing beds
At the height of the pandemic in Kerala, fashion designer Lakshmi Menon heard that every new Covid care centre had to have 50 beds. Mattresses were in short supply. Every time a patient was discharged, the mattress had to be incinerated. “I thought: that’s a lot of mattresses and a lot of burning,” said Menon.
Menon’s solution was to collect the mountains of plastic pieces from factories that make PPE – all the little bits left over after cutting. Women then braid the bits into rope-like plaits 6 ft long. The braids are laid out in a zigzag and the ends tied together. The result is a light, soft, washable, hygienic mattress for just 300 rupees – half the price of a normal one.
Apart from the Covid centres that have bought them, Menon is working with NGOs to provide shayyas to homeless shelters and rough sleepers on the principle that “everyone deserves a good night’s sleep”. India’s 1.7 million homeless people normally sleep on the ground, usually on a thin mat.