Sustainability is a way of life and with each passing day we should all commit to reducing our carbon footprint and not exceeding what is commonly referred to as our “planetary limits”. We are proud that several indie brands in our area have made commitments to be ‘sustainable’ and ‘vegan’. The problem, however, is that it’s rarely unclear whether it’s just another brand greenwashing their customers, or genuine in this regard.
If you’ve been a consumer who gave in to advertisements that are nothing more than greenwashing tactics, then you’re not the only one. Therefore, at this time, it is crucial to educate yourself and stand by the brands that are trying to be respectful of the environment and taking big steps towards a greener and brighter future.
While a lot of work has been done around sustainable fashion brands, not much has been said about brands trying to create a space for conscious living by creating sustainable products that can range from everyday items like a bag to hair conditioner, to to a carpet.
NW18 has sought to reach five such indie brands that focus on organic, recycled and regenerated sustainable items that are not only inherently awesome, but can be used daily and can bring one closer to their goal of living a sustainable lifestyle.
Kruthika Kumaran, co-founder of Vilvaah, describes her journey to sustainability as “a realization after years of overexploiting several of the planet’s resources that we often don’t need”. The factor that sets Vilvah apart from other brands, which the founding members also claim to claim to be sustainable, is their aluminum and glass packaging, which can be recycled countless times. Kruthika further adds: “We have taken several measures to be sustainable, our brand uses recyclable paper for invoices.”
Vilvah uses fresh goat’s milk for their special goat’s milk shampoo and handmade goat’s milk soaps from their own farm, says Kruthika: “As my husband and I both come from farming backgrounds, cattle have always been a part of our lives and therefore goat’s milk is and is very valuable to us hence our signature product.”
The founders of the brand do not believe in the fact that everyone can choose to live a 100% sustainable lifestyle, but however little one can, it is advisable to take this step for the benefit of the planet and future generations.
The Burlap People
Although The Burlap People only started in 2015, Samriddh Burman and Karuna Parikh’s journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle began long before that. Samriddh Burman, the brand’s co-founder, says: “Growing up on a farm, Karuna was exposed to a certain lifestyle, always having access to fresh produce and understanding how things were grown. He added: “For me it all started because my family has been in the jute business since independence and my grandfather was one of the first to do block printing on jute and make bags out of it and my father when he got in the company was the first person to start exporting jute bags overseas and I became the third generation offshoot of this company and I have been fortunate to grow with this sustainable material jute.”
The brand mainly works with burlap, which is a word interchangeable with any durable fabric made from natural fibers, starting with cotton, jute, metal, etc. The brand’s owners are constantly looking for alternatives to animal leather and Samriddh confirmed having encountered some vegetable leathers such as coconut leather and is currently working on wax canvases that are aesthetically in line with animal leather.
Launched exclusively on Instagram and used to build a community, this brand makes the coolest bags out of materials that can either be composted, upcycled or recycled, which is the need of the hour. When choosing a bag, customers have the opportunity to select their preferred material and can design their bag completely according to their wishes and completely bespoke. This entire process results in the buyer being invested in the creative energy, which often tends to make them bond better with the product they are buying.
Speaking on why people should lead a more sustainable lifestyle, Samriddh said: “The impacts of climate change are increasing exponentially and we are on the brink of complete catastrophe from an environmental point of view and our ecosystems are perishing and we are running out of time, that’s why should we act now, we need to be hopeful and we need to re-evaluate our choices and think about the impact we are having on the environment and our communities because they are all interconnected.”
This brand’s products range from shoes to egg goods, all of which have been exhibited at Dutch Design Week 2022, London Design Festival 2019 and various other incredible festivals around the world. Midushi Kochhar, the brand’s founder, is an Indian industrial designer whose work as a designer revolves around the exploration of materials, techniques and methods that can help rebuild symbiotic relationships and escalate the practice of circular economy in one’s own life.
Midushi also thinks it makes a lot of business sense to pursue a sustainable lifestyle, because “virgin goods are expensive and hard to come by considering that waste tends to be cheap and plentiful. Therefore, it is also economically important to first use what is discarded locally around you, which starts with identifying the valuable ‘waste’ and, rather than looking for new resources, use the discards to their maximum efficiency. “
Launched earlier in India and abroad as part of the collection called ‘Hejje’ which means one step ahead in Kannada and made from natural fibres, the vegan footwear collection is in high demand. But their egg products are totally unique and are made in small batches of 20-50 depending on the order.
The brand as a whole tries to find the right balance between the conflicting ideas of elegant aesthetics, production possibilities, ease of use and environmental sustainability. Not only in India but also in the Netherlands, Midushi tries to achieve such things by tackling these opposites with her brand Makers On The Move.
Founded in 2013, Farah’s Sweet Root brand addresses the dilemma of wanting to hold on to outgrown garments that your heart just won’t let go of. The brand recycles old clothes to make warm and beautiful quilts that, in a way, help people cherish memories that are too sweet to look away.
The audience response to her memory quilts has been phenomenal, says Farah: “We have customers from all over the world. Many of us have experienced great hardship due to Covid and some of us have lost loved ones forever – customers often ask us to make quilts from the outfits of loved ones they have lost.”
While speaking about the memorial blanket, the brand’s founder shed light on how these blankets acknowledge the lives of those who have left, while providing comfort and a physical medium for those left behind to reconnect. Farah adds, “Looking at a particular shirt fragment in the quilt can bring back vivid memories of an experience shared with someone special. Our real-time connection to someone we love is disrupted by death and loss, but memorial blankets recreate the journey in a beautiful, tactile, and lasting way.”
Komal Bhargava’s sustainable furniture brand uses jute to curate stunning home accessories such as footstools, footstools, cushions and rugs. Most of their furniture is made with the needs and aesthetics of a modern home in mind, making it extremely streamlined, practical and suited to the Indian climate.
The furniture the brand makes is not only whimsical but also highly sustainable, thus appealing to the modern audience trying to be more conscious about the times. Her jute furniture has been well received and Komal in particular finds it very encouraging to see that more and more people are thinking like her and choosing light green objects.
Growing up with her mother choosing green practices as an architect, Komal believes, ‘If we don’t shift to a more sustainable lifestyle in every possible degree now, no matter how small in nature, it will be too late. We should be more aware as customers, it is we who are promoting materials like polyester and this should be stopped immediately. Let’s just make smarter and more conscious decisions!”
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