Pick a challenge

Practice what you preach. Doing so is tough. Admitting this is not just humbling but also reassuring.

To obsess over perfection stalls us to take those steps we need to take to do what aligns with our values.

So, pick a challenge, take a pledge. Take your time. Learn and apply. Take inspiration if you are stuck. Take the no-straw challenge for instance. Watch Pooja Navale take the challenge and inspire others.

It’s alright, we are not perfect. Someone wise once said perfection is the enemy of good.

If you forget, remind yourself again and pick up where you left.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s a great resource from OneWorldWeek –  Living-for-One-World-pledges with plenty of challenges.

Find out what environmental issues we are facing today. Prioritize. Prioritizing can be difficult. I for one have my hands in many pots: reducing consumption, not wasting food, buying ethical and eco-friendly products, reducing my waste footprint, recycle, plant more, conserve water and energy, conserve and reuse paper, support local community initiatives, buy organic, share inspiring stories, etc.

Game on!


Who made my clothes and where do they go after I’m done with them?


The horrendously low prices that farmers get for their produce is a symptom of a society with warped priorities; we do not want to pay adequately to someone who keeps us alive, but we are willing to pay through our noses for branded shoes and gadgets. And in relation to the latter, we don’t even care what the actual factory worker gets. – Scroll.in

The same goes for some of the clothes we buy. We don’t pay through our noses for all the clothes we buy. We buy them because they are the cheapest we could find.  marks the 3rd anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster when 1,134 people were killed in a garment factory collapse in Bangladesh. We dress to impress, but we forget the suppressed. Until this incident happened, not many knew where those cheap clothes come from, who makes them and how they are made.

It’s summer here in the US and retailers are shouting out their discounts for the summer sale, would you wonder where your clothes come from?

The clothing industry is wrapped with social, environmental and economic problems. India is world’s second largest textile exporter and the third largest exporter to the US but at what cost? Challenges currently faced by the textile industry with respect to its environmental footprint include water issues, pollution caused due to dyes, and microplastics. India is battling water crisis. Water mining is rampant in the country and hence we are losing precious water resources that are not renewable in nature. Textile industry is water intensive and needs to adapt to these changing conditions.

People who manufacture clothes are victimized by human trafficking. India Textile Industry being the second largest employer after the Agriculture Industry, unfair labor practices and human trafficking are pervasive in the country. For example, Sumangali is one such form of child labor forbidden but practiced in Tamil Nadu.

The Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) had once issued closure notices to 18 industrial units in Surat for water pollution and there are over 500 units polluting Pali, Rajasthan. The Indian Textile Industry was off the sustainability wagon here. Waterless dyeing process, using solar power to run textile companiesgreen textile based on organic and natural colours and hand embroider, are some of the things India can do to tackle this mess. Labeling products also can help raise consumer awareness and help consumers choose greener and fairtrade products.

In a recent report by UNEP, Global Waste Management Outlook, that I was involved in, it was found that textile forms 1 to 3% of municipal solid waste. The second-hand clothing industry has doubled from 1.26 billion USD in 2001 to 2.5 billion USD in 2009. Canada, Germany, Republic of Korea, UK and U.S. account for more than half of all exports of this.  Fifteen countries account for half of all imports: Angola, Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Germany, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Tunisia and Ukraine . The importing countries again export the sorted fractions depending on the quality.

On a global scale, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s vision is an apparel, footwear, and home textiles industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive impact on the people and communities associated with its activities. The Fashion Transparency Index looks at five key areas when ranking brands:

1. Policy & Commitment

What are the standards and goals the company sets itself for the protection of workers’ rights and the environment? And do they make these public?

2. Tracking & Traceability

How well does the company know its supply chain and what does it make public?

3. Audits & Remediation

How does the company go about checking its supply chain for compliance with its policies and standards? And what is its approach to dealing with suppliers who fall below these standards? Do they make these public?

4. Engagement & Collaboration

Which organisations and stakeholders does the company work with to ensure its suppliers and their employees are treated well? And do they make these public?

5. Governance

What checks and balances does the company have in place within its own organisation, to ensure its initiatives take place as planned? And do they make this public?

Fashion Revolution is based in the UK and is a not for profit Community Interest Company. On 24th April each year, Fashion Revolution will bring everyone in the fashion value chain together and help to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show the world that change is possible, and celebrate all those involved in creating a more sustainable future.


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On an individual level, here are the ten top tips on how to shop better. I’ve also made a list of Twitter members involved in Fair trade. Sarah, an artist, puts it this way:

Source: SarahL


Fairher, fairyou, fair everybody! A twitter chat


Fair Trade Certified™ products were made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives. Here’s a video that tells you what Fair Trade is.

Around two weeks ago, on May 3rd, a twitter chat was organized to discuss Fairtrade. It was organized together by @Patagonia, @WestElm, @DAVIDsTEA, @prAna, @Heifer, @EndTraffick, @Dillanos, @Love146 and @FairTradeUSA. Since it was more than 10 days back, Storify wouldn’t let me see beyond that limit. I had to sift through a number of haphazard tweets from liked tweets. It slowed me and I’m dizzy now. Nevertheless, I did it and here it is, if not a complete version of the twitter chat. At the end of which I ask if anyone knows where I can get formal fairtrade wear in New Jersey. Any idea?

To see the Storified Twitter chat, click here.