Institute Institute 2013 Talk

How India’s Trash is 1 Woman’s Fortune

On an otherwise reasonable evening in July, over 1000 people packed an auditorium in Boulder Colorado for the culmination of the Unreasonable Institute. They came to watch 12 ventures, tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges, take the stage and share their plans to help define progress in our time. This is one of those talks.

The entrepreneur in this video is Madhumita Puri, Founder and CEO of Trash to Cash.

What Does Trash to Cash Do?

In India, 99% of adults with disabilities are unemployed. Trash to Cash trains adults with a variety of disabilities in India to collect trash and turn it into beautiful products that can be sold in India and elsewhere. Since 2008, we have generated $220,000 and employed 87 women with disabilities who would otherwise be without employment.

Our strategy uses waste material as raw material to reduce operational costs and increase profits. Traditional crafts persons (who were struggling to earn) are our trainers. Since the products are creative and different, they are frequently reported by the media, which helps reach out to a vast and diverse population. We also provide eco-friendly kits for conferences and seminars. Thus, in 4 years we have established a venture that maximizes profits, employs 87 people (including women) considered to be unemployable, with raw materials that pollute our waters and lands, to showcase that employment is possible!

Encouraging the replication of this model in other parts of India will provide income to many more.

About the author

Unreasonable Media

Unreasonable Media

As a company, Unreasonable Media is dedicated to leveraging the power of stories to shift paradigms and solve problems. That's why we have made almost all the videos you see on this site. Long story short, we are not your average production company. Visit our site to see for yourself.

  • Palecekb

    This is a great organization! The fact that your employees are made of people with disabilities is amazing. This could benefit not only the workers themselves but the communities as well. There is a 5K run/walk here in the U.S. that uses the same type of colored powder through the run and during the celebration after. Has the company (The Color Run) come across your organization in possibly purchasing or donating to your business or process of making the powder? I think they would be very interested in helping the cause while making money for there own organization!

  • Madhumita Puri

    Many thanks for your appreciation. I have been trying to connect to the Color Run for some time and would appreciate your help. My email id is

  • ali Alamri

    great video and ideas

  • Alexa A Dralle

    This is such a fantastic idea. Recycling flowers to be beautiful again for a festival that everybody will take part in. Helping people with disabilities to have a job is so important. These people have been thought of, or think of themselves as outcasts and are finally able to get the chance to become “normal” and have a family and a home.

  • KE7JLM

    Great innovation, suitability at it’s best.

  • Morgan H

    Your company is doing so many great things! Not only are you recycling flowers, but you’re also creating jobs for the disabled! I’m curious if you would bring this ideas into other countries as well. Also you have plans to create more jobs, but do you have more ideas about recycling other things besides flowers for this festival or to do this for other holidays swell. Amazing work!