Sustainability is a way of living and with each day passing by we should all be committing to the goal of reducing our carbon footprints as well as not exceeding what has very widely been termed as our ‘planetary boundaries.’ It is a matter of pride that several Indie brands around us have committed themselves to being ‘sustainable’ and ‘vegan’. However, the issue lies in the fact that seldom it is not clear whether it is just another brand that greenwashes their clients or genuine for that matter.
If you have been a consumer who has given into advertisements that are nothing but greenwashing tactics, then you are not the only one. Therefore, what is pivotal at this juncture of time is to educate oneself and stand by those brands that are trying to do right by the environment and are taking major steps toward a greener and brighter future.
While a lot of work has been done surrounding sustainable fashion brands, not much has been spoken about brands that are trying to create a space for conscious living by creating sustainable products that can vary from day-to-day objects like a bag to hair conditioners, to even a rug.
NW18 tried to reach out to five such Indie brands that focus on organic, recycled and regenerated sustainable items that are not only ingenious in nature but can be used on a daily basis and can take one closer to their aim of living a sustainable lifestyle.
Kruthika Kumaran, the co-founder of Vilvaah describes her journey toward sustainability as “a realization after of years of over-utilising several resources of the planet that we many a time do not require.” The factor that sets apart Vilvah from other brands that also claim to be sustainable according to the founding members is their aluminium and glass packaging that can be recycled end number of times. Kruthika further adds, “We have taken several measures to be sustainable, our brand uses recyclable paper for invoices.”
Vilvah uses fresh goatmilk for their special goatmilk shampoo and handmade goatmilk soaps from their own farm, Kruthika says, “Since my husband and I both come from an agricultural background, cattle have always been a part of our lives and so goatmilk is very precious to us and therefore is our signature product.”
The founders of the brand do not believe in the fact that everyone can opt for a 100% sustainable lifestyle but how much ever little one can, it is advisable to take that step for the betterment of the planet and future generations.
The Burlap People
Even though The Burlap People came into being only in 2015, Samriddh Burman and Karuna Parikh’s journey towards incorporating a more sustainable lifestyle began long before. Samriddh Burman, the co-founder of the brand says, “Karuna grew up on a farm and was exposed to a certain kind of lifestyle and always had access to fresh produce and understood how things were grown. He further added, “For me, the whole thing began because my family has been into the jute business since Independence and my grandfather was one of the first people to do block printing on jute and make bags out of it and my father when he joined the business was the first person to start exporting jute bags oversees and I became the third generation offshoot from that business and I was lucky enough to grow around this sustainable material, jute.”
The brand primarily works with burlap, which is a word that is interchangeable with any heavy-duty fabric made out of natural fibres starting from cotton, jute, metal and so on. The proprietors of the brand are constantly looking for alternatives to animal leather and Samriddh confirmed to have come across some vegetable-based leathers such as coconut leather and are currently working on wax canvases that aesthetically resonate with animal leather.
This brand that solely started on Instagram and utilised to build a community, makes the coolest bags with materials that can be either composted, upcycled or recycled which is the need of the hour. Customers while choosing a bag are given the option to choose their preferred material and can completely customise their bag according to whichever way it is that they fancy and is absolutely bespoke. This entire process results in the buyer being invested in the creative energy due to which one often tends to form a better bond with the product that they are purchasing.
Talking about why people need to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, Samriddh expressed, “The impact of climate change is growing exponentially and we are sort of on the brink of complete catastrophes from an environmental point of view and our eco-systems are perishing and we are running out of time, therefore, we should act now, we have to be hopeful and we need to reevaluate our choices and think of the impact we create towards the environment and our communities because all of them are interconnected.”
Products of this brand range from footwear to egg ware items, all of which have been displayed at the Dutch Design Week 2022, London Design Festival 2019 and various other incredible festivals all across the world. Midushi Kochhar, the founder of the brand is an Indian industrial designer whose practice as a designer revolves around researching materials, techniques and methodologies that can help rebuild symbiotic relationships and escalate the practice of circular economy in one’s life.
Midushi believes that it is extremely sensible to follow a sustainable lifestyle even from a business point of view because “Virgin materials are expensive and difficult to procure if seen around the waste is rather cheap and available in abundance. Hence, economically too it is important to first utilise what is discarded locally around you, which starts with identifying the valuable ‘waste’ and instead of mining for new resources, utilizing the discards up to their maximum capabilities.”
The collection of vegan footwear that was launched earlier in India and abroad as a part of the collection called “Hejje” which in Kannada means to step ahead and is made out of natural fibres is in high demand. But, their egg ware is absolutely unique and is made in small batches of 20-50 pieces as per orders.
The brand as a whole tries to find the right balance between the contradicting ideas of achieving elegant aesthetics, production capabilities, easy usability and environmental impact. Not only in India, but in the Netherlands too, Midushi is trying to achieve such things by tackling these oppositions with her brand Makers On The Move.
Farah’s brand Sweet Root which was started in 2013 addresses the dilemma of wanting to hold onto outgrown garments that the heart simply does not want to let go of. The brand recycles old clothing to make wark and beautiful quilts which in a way helps people in preserving memories that are too sweet to look away from.
The audience response that they got for their memory quilts was phenomenal, Farah says, “We have clients from across the globe. Many of us experienced great hardships due to Covid, and some of us lost our loved ones forever- customers often ask us to make quilts out of the outfits of the loved ones they have lost.”
While talking about the memorial quilt, the founder of the brand shed light on how these quilts acknowledge the lives of those who have left and at the same time provide comfort and a physical medium for those who have been left behind to reconnect. Farah adds, “Looking at a specific shirt fragment in the quilt, can bring back vivid memories of a shared experience with a special someone. Our real-time link with someone we love is severed by death and loss, but memorial quilts reconstruct the pathway in a beautiful, tactile and sustainable manner.”
Komal Bhargava’s sustainable furniture brand uses jute to curate stunning home decor items such as stools, pouffes, cushions and rugs. Most of their furniture is made keeping in mind the needs and aesthetic of a modern house and is hence extremely streamlined, practical and suitable for the Indian climate.
The furniture that the brand produces is not only quirky but is extremely sustainable in nature and therefore appeals to the modern audience who are trying to be more conscious with time. Their jute furniture has been getting a great response and the Komal especially finds it very encouraging seeing the fact that more and more people are starting to think like her and opting for fair green objects.
Komal grew up seeing her mother opt for green practices as an architect and believes that, “If we do not make a shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle now in whatever measure we can no matter how minute it is in nature, it will be too late. We should become more aware as customers, it is we who encourage materials like polyester and that should be stopped right away. Let us just make smarter and more conscious decisions!”