Our world today is dealing with a unique environmental predicament. Rapid industrial growth, combined with a sense of apathy in the general public towards minimizing wastage or adopting a more sustainable style of living has seen the carbon footprint on our planet reach unimaginable levels.
There is a very basic way in which we can all contribute to changing that narrative. It is by discontinuing the use of plastic and other non-renewable products in our daily lives. Instead, to use organic, handmade products. There is a wide array of handmade products in online and offline markets nowadays. Ranging from jute/hemp bags to embroidered cushion covers, handcrafted furniture to decorative items etc. They have come to inspire our fashion choices as well.
Embroidered shirts, traditional wear, sarees, Kurtis are all very commonly seen on people of all age groups. A welcome trend considering the fact that the gigantic volume of textile production everywhere, releases vast amounts of greenhouse gases, caustic waste and chemical dyes. The use of natural dyes in ornaments and clothing material has also taken prominence in the world of sustainable fashion for their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Derived from plants, minerals, and trees, these ecological variants are ideal alternatives to their synthetic counterparts. Natural dyes don’t undergo complex processes that contribute to pollution. They are safe on the skin, and also sustainable and biodegradable. Synthetic dyes, on the other hand, come from petrochemicals and can be toxic and sometimes even carcinogenic.
Especially in a country like India, where the craft sector is as old and basic as it is, the almost non-existent energy consumption means that it has a negligible carbon footprint. States like Assam, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have long carried the torch in terms of production of indigenous, handcrafted material. Their techniques have been deep-seated in material optimization, up-cycling and waste minimization. Also, their products are a big part of the cultural heritage of our nation.
Apart from being environment-friendly, handmade items are artefacts of genuine creative talent and skill. Moreover, they deserve recognition for the detailing and the amount of hard work that goes into making them. There is easy availability of raw materials and relatively cost-effective nature of the whole exercise. That also means that the handicraft industries can be steady sources of employment for rural populations. Many Government bodies all over the world are now looking at these very industries to eradicate unemployment to a large extent. Also, a great step to generate revenue from tourism and export.
Simply put, sustainable living is a lifestyle choice which attempts to reduce our use of the Earth’s exhaustible resources. In addition, to encourage the practice of recycling previously used material. Sometimes that can mean not choosing to consume a product that is made using practices that don’t promote sustainability. Sometimes it means changing how we do things so that we start becoming more of an active part of the cycle of life. In the same way, manufacturers need to impart the importance of ecological techniques, materials, and processes to customers of art and craft. It is the time that as customers, we start asking the right questions related to the production of whatever is put in front of us. In this way together, we can move towards a better future.
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