Sustainable development is not a quick fix, it is a long series of investments, training and changes made over time through many different resources being required. Our weaving partner in the central north part of India has been working for over 30 years to support rural development with a focus on generating employment and social development in marginalized communities. By use of the locally available raw materials such as Bheemal, Hemp and Nettle and by working with various women-led self-help groups around the area in everything from harvesting materials, to homemade products and hand looming, a regional impact is created and the rural area can experience growth in skilling and livelihood opportunities while keeping their local traditions alive.
The two main raw materials, bheemal and nettle are sourced as waste products from the forest surrounding our producer's communities. The women living in these forestry areas harvest the materials from the forests before they are made into fibre and woven into various products including slippers, curtains, foot and table mats.
Bheemal is similar to pine needles, yet longer. The forest ground is covered in these needles for large parts of the year. The dry needles make the forest ground prone to forest fires, which can have devastating consequences. The women harvesting the needles from the forest floor, reduce the risk of forest fires and capture their carbon rather than it releasing when burning or rotting. Bheemal needles are excellent because they can be up-cycled into many different products due to their antimicrobial nature, they are also biodegradable and environmentally friendly.
Fibre crafted from Himalayan nettle plants is both durable and sustainable. The fibre from the nettle is currently the longest fibre known to man and is considered to be finer, stronger and more elastic than linen. In addition to that, creating a high-quality fabric nettle also helps to stabilise soil and can be grown without chemical interventions.
Hemp has the ability to grow in abundance in the area and has always been an important plant in the Himalayan region for many purposes even though it has been on the decrease the last decades due to politics. Now, however, hemp is increasingly becoming recognized as an important crop that can provide stable, low risk income to farmers in the region while giving the world a material that is both durable and highly environmentally beneficial. Hemp is therefore increasingly becoming a more available and relevant material in the weaving and textile production. Read more about hemp here.
Handloomed | Highly durable | Natural | Reduced carbon emissions
Our partner works directly with women artisans to provide training in weaving and artisan handicrafts. Women who are unable to set up their own home production units can work from their training and production centres. Our producer adheres to fair trade policies and works to ensure that the men and women in the centres have the opportunity, fair wages and a say in the production and management of the centres. Most, but not all employees are women.
The central unit has dozens of traditional hand looming machines, and in the basement is a setup with electric looming machines for more standardized textile weaves. Hemp is on the rise due to its ability to have a considerable environmental and social impact in the area and in our world in general. Research into how this machinery can be used for hemp textile production is currently undergoing. It is expected that larger-scale hemp weaving soon can be conducted after modifying some of the machinery.
By focusing on using local raw materials in products our producer reduces the carbon footprint of all products from the beginning of production. Using materials that grow naturally in the local area, such as nettle and bheemal, no emissions are generated through cultivation or harvesting and carbon which is fixated in these natural materials is captured in the final products rather than rotting or burning into carbon and released into the atmosphere.
UN Sustainable Development Goal
By utilizing farmed and natural waste by-products this producer is addressing target 12.2 and seeking to achieve the "sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources."
Our partner provides commercial and technical knowledge training to women's self-help groups. They assist in the marketing of artisan products. Additionally, the women's own self-help groups are supported by providing them knowledge and connecting them with broad community support programs available including financial and health programming.
UN Sustainable Development Goal
By supporting women's self-help groups this producer is addressing target 8.3 "promotes development-oriented policies that support productive activities and decent job creation."
Livelihoods impacted: 3000 women's livelihoods are impacted