Articles | In-Depth Analysis | Research/ Review Paper

A Study on The Clothing Acquisition & Disposal Practices by Street Sweepers

Published: May 10, 2024

Sir Vithaldas Thackersey College of Home Science [Empowered Autonomous]

Department of Textiles and Fashion Designing S.N.D.T Women’s University, Head of Department: Dr. Armaiti Shukla

Dr. Armaiti Shukla and Khan Mantasha

Abstract: This study examines the clothing acquisition and disposal practices among street sweepers, focusing on the strategies employed by these individuals to obtain and manage their attire. The methods used by street sweepers to acquire and handle their clothes are the primary subject of this study, which looks at their acquisition and disposal habits. Furthermore, as sustainable practices gain prominence, the effective disposal of worn-out clothing also becomes crucial. The research employs a comparative approach, analysing the practices of street sweepers in different geographical regions. Data is gathered via interviews and observations providing a thorough grasp of the procurement and disposal procedures.


Street sweepers play a crucial role in maintaining cleanliness and sanitation in urban environments. These individuals oversee removing trash, litter, and other waste materials from sidewalks, roadways, and public areas. Their line of work often takes them outside in inclement weather and requires heavy labour, so they must wear clothes that are comfortable, safe, and long-lasting. Clothing acquisition and disposal practices among street sweepers are significant as they directly affect their job performance, well-being, and overall quality of life. The acquisition of suitable attire presents unique challenges for street sweepers, considering factors such as affordability, accessibility, and availability of resources. Additionally, preserving sustainable practices and reducing environmental effects depend heavily on the proper disposal of old or damaged garments.

Clothing acquisition can occur through different mechanisms. First, they receive cloth directly from the employing organisations, second, they purchase specific cloth themselves, and the last will be the donation. If they purchase on their own, so exploring their preferences for specific brands, or do they buy the clothes from the secondhand market, what area they buy, the budget, types of garments, and factors influencing their purchasing decision like cost, availability, personal style, comfort, and workplace policies.

The disposal of clothing is another important aspect of the street sweepers’ routine. Due to the nature of their work, clothing items may experience significant wear and tear. The contact with dirt and debris can lead to the deterioration of garments. When the clothes become excessively damaged and worn out how do they 

discard them, whether they follow any specific protocols, recycling initiatives, or organisation guidelines for clothing disposal or do they just through in landfill? Adopting a comparative approach, this study will scrutinise clothing acquisition and disposal practices among street sweepers across diverse geographical regions. Through this comparative analysis, valuable insights can be gained regarding the effectiveness of different strategies and best practices that can be implemented within varying contexts.

AIM OF STUDY: – To investigate the Garment purchasing habits of street sweepers and disposing methods. 

OBJECTIVE: – 1] To examine the daily routines, work schedules, challenges, and responsibilities of street sweepers. 

2] To explore the motivations and factors that lead individuals to pursue a career as street sweepers. 

3] To investigate the sources of clothing. 

4] To investigate how they dispose of the damaged or worn-out cloth.

METHODOLOGY: – This study employs qualitative research to gather in-depth insights into the clothing acquisition and disposal practices of street sweepers. The research involves conducting semi-structured interviews of purposive samples with street sweepers from various geographic locations to capture a diverse range of perspectives. The interviews are supplemented with direct observations of street sweepers during their work shifts to gain a deeper understanding of their clothing choices and behaviour.

Review of Literature 

Many recent studies focused on how street sweepers clean the city, the role of street sweepers, what are the challenges they face, what they wear, etc. My study is about how street sweepers acquire clothes as well as how they discard them. In a recent article by (The Indian Express-2023), the BMC has decided to provide the employees with a deep blue uniform, with ready-made, eye-catching orange and yellow stripes embroidered on shirts and pants but earlier they used to wear a khaki colour uniform, for men’s, they have a full set of uniform but in case of women’s they wear a khaki colour shirt over saree. Now they are offering unisex uniforms that are made to be worn by both sexes, but these uniforms are provided by the BMC.

A recent article [Horizons-2022] From darkness to dignity [Menon-2022], examines the challenges faced by them. Street sweepers play a crucial role in maintaining cleanliness and sanitation in urban environments. These individuals are in charge of removing trash, litter, and other garbage from sidewalks, roadways, and public areas, they risk their health regularly. They face numerous challenges in their day-to-day work, which can impact their efficiency and well-being.  Addressing all the challenges requires a multi-faceted approach that includes providing adequate training, safety equipment, and resources to the street sweepers.

In the article Sarfare, S., & Sarfare, S. (2022, April 16), thrift shopping increased in demand after the pandemic, when it comes to some lifestyle decisions, the epidemic proved to be an eye-opener. The emphasis is on reducing expenses wherever possible since many are being forced to accept salary reductions and many are even losing their jobs. Consequently, there is a noticeable shift in purchasing. Suddenly, thrift shopping and purchasing pre-owned items are in demand. Consumer behaviour in thrift shopping refers to the attitudes, motivations and decision-making processes that individuals engage in when shopping for secondhand items. Thrift shopping has gained popularity in recent years, and understanding consumer behaviour in this context can provide insights into why people choose thrift shops and how they navigate the thrift shopping experience. Overall, consumer behaviour in thrift shopping is shaped by a combination of factors such as affordability, unique appeal, sustainability considerations, and the thrill of the hunt.

How often buy new clothes

Monthly Personal Income
  5k-10k 11k-20k 21k-30k 31k-40k 41k-50k 51K-60K 61K-70K
  M F M F M F M F M F M F M F
How often buy new clothes                            
Weekly 0 0 2.2 0 2.2 2.2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2.2 0
Monthly 0 2.2 4.4 4.4 11 7 0 4.4 0 0 0 0 0 0
Quarterly 2.2 2.2 2.2 9 7 0 0 0 2.2 0 0 0 0 0
Annually 0 2.2 2.2 4.4 13 7 4.4 2.2 0 2.2 0 0 0 0

  Table No. 1- How often do they buy new clothes?

                     Fig no.1 – to analyse how often street sweepers buy new clothes.

The above graph shows how often street sweepers buy clothes, in the income group of 5k- 10k, 2% of males buy quarterly where 2% of females buy clothes monthly, and 2% of them buy quarterly and annually as well. In the income group of 11k-20k, 2% of males buy weekly, 4.4% buy clothes monthly, 2% of them buy quarterly and 2% annually, while in females, 4.4% buy monthly, 9% buy clothes quarterly, 4.4% annually. In the income group 21k-30k, 2% of males buy clothes weekly, 11% buy monthly, 7% go for quarterly, the highest 13% buy annually, 2% buy weekly, 7% buy Monthly, and 7% go annually to buy new clothes. In the income group of 31k-40k, 4% of males prefer to buy clothes annually, while 4% of females buy clothes monthly, and 2% of them buy them annually. In the income group of 41k-50k, 2% of males buy clothes quarterly and 2% of females buy clothes annually. In the income group of 61k-70k 2% of males buy clothes weekly. According to the data analyses, Most of them buy new clothes annually and quarterly.

Budget range for shopping 

Budget range for clothes
Local stores 2.2 2.2 13 16 20 24 7 2.2 0 2.2
Online 0 0 2.2 0 4.4 2.2 4.4 0 4.4 0
Second-hand\thrift s


0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Mall 0 0 0 0 2.2 0 4.4 0 4.4 0

Table no.2 – what is their Budget range for shopping?

Fig no.2- To analyse the Budget range for shopping and the platform from where they purchase garments 

The above graph shows the budget range for shopping and which platform street sweepers prefer for shopping. 2% of males and 2% of females with a budget of less than 500 prefer to shop from local stores. In the budget range of 500-1k, 13% of males prefer local stores, where 2% of males prefer online platforms for shopping, and 16% of females only prefer local stores for shopping. In the budget range of 2k-3k, 20% of males and 24% of females prefer local stores, while 4% of males and 2% of females go for online shopping, and 2% of males like to shop in malls. In the budget range of 4k-5k, 7% of males and 2% of females go to local stores, 4% of males prefer online, whereas 4% of males prefer malls for shopping. In the budget range of 6k-7k, 4% of males prefer online shopping, 4% of males choose malls for shopping, and 2% of females prefer local stores. The above graph shows that, for shopping, the preference for local stores is higher, than for online platforms and malls. In the graph, it also shows that none of them prefers second-hand markets or thrift stores for shopping.

Method of disposing of the garment

Discard as regular waste Recycle  Donate to charity 
7% 15% 78%

The above pie chart shows the disposing methods the street sweepers prefer, it includes both males and females. There are 3 ways, discard as regular waste, recycle or donate it to charity, 7% of them discard old clothes as regular waste, where 15% of them recycle it, and the majority of them which is 78% of them Donate it to the charity. 


In conclusion, this study aims to generate valuable insights into clothing acquisition and disposal practices among street sweepers with the ultimate goal of improving their working conditions, job satisfaction, and overall well-being by addressing the unique challenges faced by street sweepers in acquiring suitable clothing and exploring sustainable disposal practices, this research can contribute to the betterment of urban environments and the communities they serve.

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