C Sekar and his team manually scrape and extract natural fibre from agricultural products such as banana stems, pineapple, aloe vera and hemp in a tin-roofed workshop in Anakaputhur, on the outskirts of Chennai.
C Sekar and his
team manually scrape and extract natural fibre from agricultural products such
as banana stems, pineapple, aloe vera and hemp in a tin-roofed workshop in
Anakaputhur, on the outskirts of Chennai.
Sekar, 58, is a
third-generation weaver, and his team of about 100 women are part of a
self-help group that works on looms in shifts. Every month, they produce up to 150 saris and 300 metres
of fabric, out of 500 discarded banana stems, innumerable fruit peels and
plenty of other agricultural waste.
Depending on the
clientâ€™s choice, the yarn is dyed using eco-friendly products and mixed with
cotton to weave elegant five or eight-metre saris, lungis and rolls of fabric.
This sustainable innovation
has become a source of livelihood â€“ and substantial profit â€“ for many in the
small town in the past decade. The community sells the natural fibre fabric and
the saris they make from it to boutiques and high-end brands.
Sekar says that,
cotton production consumes a lot of water, so the need to find alternatives was
another driving force apart from utilising agricultural waste. However,
scalability still remains a major concern in the textile industry. He adds
that, apart from other roadblocks to make textiles sustainable in India,
ready-made natural fibre yarn is not available in the market. Hence weavers are
forced to make them in-house. Making yarn in itself is a long-drawn,
time-consuming and labour-intensive process. So not many weavers are
enthusiastic about switching to natural fibres.
While he continues to devote
time for research and development, Sekar has also encouraged his son to take up
a bachelor of technology course in textiles, so the next generation can take
the familyâ€™s eco-friendly profession forward.
The mission has also
facilitated the group’s entry into the Limca Book of Records for weaving a sari using 25
Source: N Lifestyle
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