Monday, May 24, 2010

Would You Go This Far To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Photo courtesy: Ahmedabad Mirror.

How far would you go to reduce your eco-guilt? You know, that feeling that racks a person when he/she realises the amount of damage he/she has inflicted on environment? Anupam Majumdar, a successful apparel designer used to drive luxury cars; wore expensive, designer clothes; owned gadgets galore; and, enjoyed a life of extravagance and excess; but, gave it all up to reduce his carbon footprint. He is a man whose goals and aspirations have changed.

Majumdar sold his two gas-guzzling cars and purchased a fuel-efficient car,the Maruti 800; recycled his expensive clothes and switched to clothes that were discarded by others; gave away his cellphones and other gadgets - all to embrace a new lifestyle of austerity. He even quit his high-paying job to begin his own business of recycling fabrics - usually khadi. Khadi is a traditional home-spun material usually made from organic cotton made popular by Mahatma Ghandi.

The 42-year-old Majumdar became the opposite of the well-known American dream. Instead of going from rags to riches, he went from riches to rags - literally.

“I realised how my lifestyle was harming environment; so, I changed it completely. I no longer buy things I don’t need. I make the best out of what is available,” he says.

Majumdar used to enjoy wearing expensive clothes; but, today, he wears his brother-in-law’s hand-me-downs. He refuses to buy new shoes wearing only old, repaired pairs. “My brother-in-law, who lives in Mumbai, buys new clothes every three to four months. When I came to know about this, I asked him to send me all his old clothes,” he says.

Majumdar’s company, Genesis Designs makes outfits from discarded bits of fabric. Photo courtesy: Ahmedabad Mirror.

Majumdar feels that too many throw out clothing that is still totally acceptable for no apparent reason. “One just gets bored, so he/she discards them,” he theorizes. “I keep some of the garments my brother-in-law sends me and distribute the rest among my relatives in Vallabhipur, Bhavnagar. I have realised that what goes out of fashion in Mumbai is pretty much in style Vallabhipur.”

How did his wife accept this sudden change in lifestyle? It did not upset his wife, Rupal, in any way. In fact, she welcomed the change. “I was always against the ostentatious way of living. I am glad he gave it up,” she says.

Fueled by his desire to ease his carbon footprint, he has started his own company called Genesis Designs. His company designs and promotes garments made from recycled fabrics. He collects discarded bits of fabric, such as khadi, from the larger fabric companies using them to design capris, wraparounds and kurtis (tunic/tops) for the aam junta (the masses). This is a great way to prevent waste cloth material from ending up in a dump yard.

“Khadi has become too elitist. It’s time to take it to the common people,” states Majumdar. “The rich can afford to get their clothes styled by designers, who have best tailors at their service. I want to cater to the aam aadmi (common person).”

Majumdar manages to make use of even randomly cut pieces of cloth and rejected khadi bales. A khadi weaver will throw away a bale if he fails to get colour consistency. “If the weave is defective, we run perpendicular prominent bands through texturing or embroidery. This is done to ensure the finished outfit looks beautiful,” he says.

Majumdar believes in sharing his expertise to make a difference. Currently, he is working with the Madhya Pradesh government and is trying to come up with ways to make good use of waste generated by artisans.

“Some day, I will set up a store where everything, from a simple pair of tongs to the most complicated machine, will be repaired. I feel we need a campaign to discourage the practice of use and throw. It’s not part of the Indian culture. People must realise the benefits of recycling and reuse,” he says.

Via Ahmedabad Mirror

No comments: