Looking Locally: the sustainable initiatives you can support

“This Earth is our only home. Together, we must protect and cherish it.” - Ban Ki-Moon

Climate change, plastic pollution, global warming, fast fashion, all these issues can feel almost too large for any one person to tackle. The world is so large, you can start to think if your actions can even make a difference. However, we need to remind ourselves that what we do individually can absolutely make a difference, and if we get as many other people to join in and make a change in their own lifestyles, the impact can be immense!

Other than making conscious choices within your everyday life, it is also important that we stay aware of the initiatives that are seeking to make a positive change. Most of us are all aware of global ones like World Environment Day and Earth Day, but it’s also very important that we look closer to home and support the campaigns that are trying to make a difference on a national or local level - after all, those are also the campaigns we can get more involved in and participate in more frequently.

Today, we tell you more about a few initiatives specifically important to India, our home-base, and what they are aiming to do!

What is the Swachh Bharat Mission?

To put it simply, the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is all about improving waste systems. Established by the Government of India in 2014, the campaign was launched country-wide and particularly focused on eliminating open defecation and improving solid waste management. Phase 1, which spanned from its establishment to October 2019, aimed to bring awareness to sanitation practices, encouraging a change in behaviour on a local level. Phase 2, which will span 2020 to 2021, seeks to “sustain the [India’s] open defecation free status and improve the management of solid and liquid waste. The mission is aimed at progressing towards target 6.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals Number 6 established by the United Nations in 2015.”

So far, SBM has been India’s largest campaign that focuses on the issue of waste and waste sustainability with approximately 3 million government employees and students from all over the country dedicating themselves to the cause. This includes individuals from around 4,043 cities, towns, and rural communities!

How to support it...

The campaign is heading in a positive direction and what we can do now is encourage people to be more aware of the aims of the campaign, generate conversations and discussions, whether in person or online.

When it comes to your own waste, make conscious choices to segregate and dispose of it responsibly. If you are able to recycle, make sure to separate your plastics and glass, but if not, you can always separate your biodegradable and food waste to use as compost for your garden. All these actions lead to positive impacts like reducing carbon emissions and conserving natural resources that grow fewer each day.

What is Vocal for Local?

If you live or work in India, you may have come across this term used in an ad on a billboard or through social media where small businesses encourage audiences to invest in their local community or crafts. It’s a plea to focus on creating a ‘self-reliant India’ or ‘self-sufficient India’, one that encompasses a vision of a nation that is supportive of its own unique crafts, goods and people while being self-sustaining - creating a system that benefits our communities wherever it can.

This went on to create several initiatives all in support of this vision and then, during Modi’s Independence speech this year, he coined the term ‘vocal for local’, one that many of us have used and spread far and wide to urge others to support local communities who have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and are in need of help from the rest of their community to support themselves and their families.

How to support it…

Conversations will help spread awareness far and wide but what’s more important is to invest in your communities yourself. You can do this simply by buying groceries from stores within your neighbourhoods, buying handmade goods crafted by local communities, and so on. As long as you’re spending your money to support the ‘little guy’, you’ll be supporting communities who really need it at this time.

Recently, an 80-year-old owner of ‘Baba ka Dhaba’, a food stall in Delhi, received a lot of love from people all over the city due to a viral video of them talking about their difficulties making ends meet in this time. It spurred many to visit them to help them out, giving them renewed hope and a chance to keep their business going! It shows just how a little kindness and community spirit can go a long way.

What is Fashion Revolution?

Though a global movement, it is one that is very relevant to Indian society. When it comes to the textiles industry in India, it is the second largest industry in the nation, second only to agriculture. That means millions upon millions of citizens are involved in creating, producing, and profiting off of textiles right here in our homebase, and so our responsibility to make sure those systems are responsibly and sustainably managed is even higher.

The Fashion Revolution movement itself was born out of an incident not far from here, one that became the 4th largest industrial disaster in history: the 2013 tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh where more than 1,100 people died and 2,500 were injured. Unsafe and unethical systems that do not value the people that craft are still in existence, for example, when it comes to India, women have often been undervalued and under-appreciated within the textiles industry though they have brought many contributions in helping it flourish. The movement hopes to eradicate these systems to create something that is far better for those creating as well as urge production to be eco-friendly, benefitting our environment rather than hurting it.

How to support it...

Being aware is incredibly important to all these causes and especially fashion. Often, we are blinded by trends and want nothing more than to be included in them. Fashion is how many of us show that we are keeping up with those trends, so we often fall prey to fast fashion - mass produced clothing often made cheaply and unsustainably, using resources inefficiently, while underpaying their workers.

Making sure you ask those who create your clothes how your clothes are made is a great way to make sure accountability is held. Ask them what materials and dyes are used, how they treat their workers, and what systems they employ to lessen waste. Along with questioning, also find out who’s producing the green way and make strides to invest in slow fashion instead in whatever way you can - you can start by checking out Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index that reviews hundreds of brands in how sustainable their systems really are..

Who else can I support?

Aside from the campaigns and organisations we have mentioned, there are plenty of others you can support who are all doing their best to make a positive change on our planet.

ReefWatch Marine Conservation India

Based in Mumbai, this NGO was established in 1993 and is primarily involved in research, education and outreach activities all in their effort to conserve and protect marine ecosystems. We at Sui have supported them in the past too through raising funds for their ‘Ocean Art Sundays’ program that dedicates itself to educating children in coastal villages in how to protect marine environments they are surrounded by.

Other projects include coral reef monitoring in Lakshadweep and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, beach cleanups in Mumbai, and SCUBA training for scientists who wish to get involved with their research.

New Delhi Nature Society

Another organisation we have had the pleasure to be involved with, this group was formed in 2014 and in 2019 on Earth Day, Founder, Verhaen Khanna, took our team on a nature walk through Lodi Gardens in New Delhi to show us the joy of taking a moment in nature and paying closer attention to what it does for us.

This among many other activities, is what NDNS strives to do: show others how amazing nature is and encourage them to take action in preserving it. Other activities that they organise include morning Yoga in parks, small camp outs over the weekend, and nature awareness workshops. Through all this, they aim to help people reconnect with nature and are especially involved in organising workshops for children.

MasterG

Focusing on women empowerment in the textile industry, MasterG connects women from low income communities to fashion clients to involve them in design and production, giving them a stable source of employment while training them along the way. From design, production to creating the finished product, these women handle every stage of the process and learn to fully support themselves and their families.

Being a female-led team ourselves, we have always been very supportive of those who aim to empower women, especially within our own industry in India where patriarchal traditions have often ruled how systems were created, leaving women vulnerable and taken advantage of. MasterG instead insists on creating a workplace that benefits them while teaching them all the skills they need to thrive in the fashion industry.

Zomato Feeding India

This not for profit organisation was founded in 2014 by Ankit Kawatra who began this venture after witnessing the massive amount of food wasted when he attended a wedding. Since then, their network has expanded to include more than 26,000 volunteers and operates in more than 100 cities in India.

According to a 2020 report, an estimated 14% of our population is undernourished and the need to help these communities is even more dire due to the effect of our global pandemic. And so, their mission is simple, they want to work towards distributing “better food for more people” and make sure there’s “food for everyone” in order to end hunger completely. 

Learn more with these resources

Sustainability Development Goals | UNITED NATIONS INDIA

Planting a Forest to Clearing 4 Lakh Kg of Waste: 10 Heroes Saving Us All in 2019 | THE BETTER INDIA

Grazia Centrestage: A New Order: Homegrown Labels On Our Radar | GRAZIA INDIA

Where do Apparel Companies Stand on Women Workers? | HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

Changing The Way You Dress Can Help Save Our World | Mahim Gujral | TEDxShivNadarUniversity

 

Hand Made in India - Sustainability, Craft, Fashion | Radhi Parekh | TEDxNSSHillSpringIntlSchool


And for even more green news, tips and stories, check out the rest of our Green Journal blog!