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We are 50 shades of Green. Are you?

Mar 01, 2016

Few years ago, on a hot/humid monsoon day in Ahmedabad, I was out all day and, in the evening when I came home to change, I saw that my whole body had turned blue! The colour of my peacock blue bandhani top has run all over and even after a hot soapy shower I could not get rid of it completely. Next, I came up with a nasty, red rash. I first thought it was prickly heat but it was not. A doctor friend told me that the dye of my top had something bad in it and it affected my skin. He said that these dyes could be poisonous. They also affect the dyers very badly and the villages where it is made, many artisans have their hands and fingers damaged. I was so shocked; I was turning red and blue. With anger!

My training and career as an architect, spread between India and England for over 35 years, I was closely involved with various aspects of green, energy efficient and sustainable built environment projects...

Our family had a close association with Mahatma Gandhi, and India’s Freedom Struggle. My aunt, Indumatiben Chimallal, set up the first Khadi shop in Ahmedabad.

MORALFIBRE

I revisited the Khadi scene with my “fresh pair of eyes”. I got convinced that this fabric making technology is as important and meaningful now, as it was in its glorious past, though it is losing its shine, direction and it appeal. Thousands of spinners and weavers are losing work and livelihood. The revival and re-invention of this very ‘unique Indian’, beautiful, sustainable, hand crafted, low carbon and allergy free, fair trade fabric, has a great untapped potential. MORALFIBRE was set up in 2008, to do just that. When I started there were critics galore...

Within five years, MORALFIBRE is a movement of change in Gujarat. MORALFIBRE has played a pioneering role in re-invention, revival and creation of the next generation of this almost forgotten fabric making technology and, it is finding regular buyers internationally. The fabrics are energised by hands – with Ambar charkhas and hand or paddle looms...

We have also promoted the production of the first organic hand crafted fabrics to support organic farming. There are plans to set up a network of production of solar fabrics where solar energy is used in spinning and weaving – developing a completely new supply cycle while keeping the core values of decentralised fabric making and carbon neutral production. This would dramatically increase the productivity and earning capacity of the artisans... Let me ask you, what are you wearing? A cheap and cheerful, no nonsense T, carelessly thrown over, bought from a bargain shop? Your t-shirt might be smeared with poor wages to the workers and, possibly child labour?! A branded t-shirt showing off those elegant and shapely curves? The owners of your choice label may have a history of treating their remote factory workers unfairly. They may have primarily focused, on making the share holders very rich, instead.

A warm and cuddly synthetic fleece? It may have guzzled up invaluable, non renewable resources like oil and electricity and it is so cheap that you may be planning to throw it away next season or next year for a new colour and style. This inert-material-waste may keep polluting the earth for the next 200 years or so.

A colourful ethnic top? The cotton growing, manufacturing, dyeing and printing may have polluted our earth, water and sky with harmful pesticides and chemicals. They may have caused the cotton farmers, factory workers and their children severe illnesses and sometimes death. We are responsible for what we buy.

Adapted from a feature written by Shailini Sheth Amin, Founder & CEO, MORALFIBRE. Email: Moralfibre77@gmail.com