World Environment Day: How Indian fashion labels are working towards protecting the environment – Times of India

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It is a known fact that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The main culprit here is the production of fibers and garments used in making clothes that often lead to all sorts of pollution – water, soil, air and more. But it doesn’t mean that the industry insiders are not working towards reducing this pollution and its impact. A lot of labels have bent towards sustainable fashion, using recycling and upcycling techniques for conservation of nature. They are going green by using environment friendly fabrics, accessories and techniques. We caught up with some of the popular names in the Indian fashion industry to know something about their conservation strategies.

Donating the dead stock

Have you ever wondered what happens to the stock that lies unsold? Well, in most cases it becomes redundant and eventually ends up as junk. But some labels have devised indigenous techniques to get rid of this inventory.

Designer Saloni Panwar from Gulabo Jaipur feels the fashion industry does have a negative impact on the environment and all the brands must work towards making sustainable collections. Panwar suggests a way to move forward without harming the environment – “One way would be to donate the ones that end up becoming the dead stock for all the brands,” says Panwar.

“Talking solely about Gulabo Jaipur, to ensure minimal carbon footprint, we make sure that we use all leftover fabrics. We make masks, bags out the same. Most of our staff members also use the same, to make tops and kurtas for themselves. We encourage the above practices so there is minimal wastage,” she adds.

The label tries to use fabrics that consume less water and encourage all their labourers to use organic dye so it doesn’t damage water bodies around. “We try very hard so that no fabric goes to waste and every inch is used to make something useful,” explains the popular designer.

Energy efficiency

Another factor that is being adopted now towards a more sustainable business strategy is minimal energy usage. Designer duo Sukriti & Aakriti, who are often in news for their quirky creations for Bollywood stars, are of the opinion that climate change is one of the biggest challenges we’re facing as a species.”You can minimise your carbon footprint and help the environment in many different ways,” say the duo.

The duo are making their own little efforts as a brand to reduce the carbon footprint by abiding by the following:

Systematic approach
Electrical appliances are becoming more efficient by the year, you can make an informed choice. Whether it’s buying energy saving light bulbs or choosing appliances with a high energy star rating, you can make your work more eco-friendly like we are trying to do. “Additionally, we make sure to turn off and unplug anything we are not using which we follow very closely,” suggest the duo.

Go digital

“It’s never been easier to collaborate with others online. Whether through sharing documents using cloud storage or video conferencing instead of travelling, to reduce our waste and emissions. We are moving away from printed documents where possible, and encourage others to work on their digital skills for the workplace,” add the designers.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

“We like other companies’ host of different products in our day-to-day running. Whether it’s things like paper, electronic devices, packaging, or water, it all has a carbon footprint. By reducing the amount of waste we generate, reusing IT equipment, and recycling waste, we are trying to make a real difference,” further add the duo.

Eliminate single-use plastic

Last but not the least, the label has stopped using things like disposable coffee cups and cutlery to reduce the company’s carbon footprint,” conclude the pretty ladies.

Reverse migration

A label that is garnering a lot of interest in people with a sustainable bent of mind is Asha Gautam. Designer Gautam Gupta of label Asha Gautam is taking a number of steps to make a difference.

“We at Asha Gautam were cognizant of the fact that fashion in some ways is hurting the environment. We had a set up of more than a hundred workers earlier, but also realized this setup is tough to sustain. In 2013, we started the process of reverse migration and collaborated with specialized artisans across the country. We traveled to a lot of clusters in Pan India to look for artisans who were flexible to work on small quantities first. Most textiles are handmade and crafted in clusters in Banaras, Yeola, Limbdi, Bhuj, and many more parts of the country. Even our embroideries are done in the interiors of West Bengal, ” reveals Gupta.

“We are using banana, bamboo, and aloe vera yarns to make textiles so that food waste can be used. We are working more with other such yarns. We use biodegradable fabrics and restrain from using polyester at all. We send our designs from here and use technology from WhatsApp video calls to speak, monitor, and guide them. The procurement of raw material is also local instead of buying from other countries for a cheaper rate. In Delhi, we just assemble in our factory. We only have thirty workers who stay close to the factory so that they don’t have to travel a long distance to reach their workplace. We have been recycling and upcycling for the past 23 years and have a zero wastage policy. 20 percent of our revenue comes from recycling,” adds the designer.

Apart from making positive changes in production, the label has started an e-store and digital marketing on Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook through which it aims to sell designs and reduce the travel of clients for low-priced products. The label’s latest initiative, AG by Asha Gautam is targeting online sales under 15k.

“Even in packaging, we use multi-purpose bags or paper bags instead of regular plastic bags. We next aim to use recycled fabric and material as packing. Still, we feel that there is more to be done and as a brand we will keep working in this direction. Making a lot of changes in an existing setup isn’t easy but the key is to educate all the stakeholders and move forward collectively to achieve it,” says the designer.

Steps towards environmental preservation

Denim has been one of the most popular clothing businesses in the country and considering the amount of wastage the denim production industry allegedly does, we got in touch with Abhishek Yadav, Design Head, Spykar to spill the beans on the efforts they have undertaken to soothe the environment.

“With increased awareness, brands are evolving to ensure a more sustainable approach to the production of apparel. Right from production facilities, manufacturing techniques, to raw materials being chosen; various aspects of business are looked at more consciously by brands. Spykar’s Fashion denim range which is about 50% of the overall jeans production is done at a super compliant plant at Tarapur that follows several measures of environmental preservation. The new age laser wash treatment/technology is used for intricate patterns that eliminate chemical/carbon footprint. There is zero fossil fuel usage and Spykar relies on solar power for 30% of their energy requirement. Drying is done through infra-red rays to ensure fossil fuels are conserved. Ozone technology is used to harness the natural bleaching capabilities of O3 – leading to a 50% reduction in water and chemical usage. A water recycling process ensures 90% of water is recycled. From a whopping 125ltrs/jeans, the consumption is now reduced to 1 glass of water/jeans. Pumice stones are discarded to maintain the ecological balance. Likewise, cloud technology uses mist formed by inducing high pressured air into the water creating nano-bubbles, thereby covering a larger surface area in minimal water,” Yadav makes a proud claim.

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