Documentary by meghna gupta

Film poster of  Unravel

Film poster of Unravel

All sorts of clothes come here” - This is the first sentence of the short documentary Unravel, that lasts no more than 13.30 minutes. This is a film about where all of your discarded clothes go. A lot of it is transported to India.


In the film you see small trucks that are filled with bales of clothes that reach twice the height of the truck and it looks like it will tilt any second. When the old clothes are loaded of in the factory, the workers start to sort the clothes by color, and the workers walk around huge pills of orange, blue, green and red pills. But before the clothes arrive at the factories, it gets slashed upon entering the country, so it is not sellable as a piece of clothes. From the borders where the clothes arrive and is slashed, it is transported more than 700 miles to Panipat in the northern of India where a female worker named Reshma lives and works.

Film still from  Unravel

Film still from Unravel

Reshma, film still from  Unravel

Reshma, film still from Unravel

The documentary’s main character is Reshma, an Indian woman working in the recycling industry of discarded western clothes. She has never seen a western person in real life, but she has seen tons of their old clothes, and she is surprised by all the different design and colors of the clothes. “Some of the clothes make me laugh imagining how people wear them.”, Reshma says.



After the clothes has arrived at the factory where Reshma works, the buttons and zippers are cut off the garments, and after this the fabric is shredded into small fibers. Then it is spun to thread and after this it is woven into blankets.

Every year over 100.000 tonnes of discarded clothes travel from Western countries to be recycled in Panipat.

The workers even takes their breaks upon the pills of clothing using them as pillows. During a break on of the female workers gives their explanation on why all of this clothes is shipped to India: “Everyone here says that the clothes come over because there’s a water shortage in the West. Water is just as expensive as clothes for these people. That’s why they wear their clothes a couple of times, and then throw them away. That’s what everyone says, and what we always hear! I wouldn’t know why else they come!”


Film stills from  Unravel

Film stills from Unravel

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It is crazy to think about that a t-shirt or a dress that could be made in India is shipped of to a western country, where it in best case is worn a life time or till it is falling apart and in worse case it is maybe worn one or two time or maybe even none, before being shipped back to India.


My call-on with the readers is that we should try and eat more locally and organic for the sake of the planet and ourselves. If we want our bodies and the planet to be healthy we need to stop using so many dangerous chemicals out on the fields and in the stables. The general way of farming at the moment is not sustainable for the future because the soil is not working on its own terms but are being exploited to meet demands and be as efficient as possible. I am not saying that we should all go back to being farmers, but maybe just try to grow something yourself in your garden, at your balcony or in your windowsill or maybe go visit a local farm, to come to the understanding of how plants grow and what can be grown where.


The documentary is made in 2012, can be seen on Youtube







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