Being sustainable or environment friendly has become a necessity these days, as brands evolve to play a significant role in the life of their customers and the entire community. Creating a product that’s non-toxic, raw material and energy efficient throughout its manufacture, use and disposal, is a true eco-friendly practice. Several brands in the manufacturing industry have included this aspect in their company philosophy. It’s not just the employers but also the employees across levels who play an educated and involved role in ensuring their processes are pro-environment.
The sustainability factor of a product can be assessed on three parameters – how are the raw materials sourced, how’s the product manufactured and what’s the future impact of the product. Responsibly sourcing raw materials that are not only local to the region but also renewable, forms the DNA foundation of the product. Manufacturing the product in a way that’s natural, non-toxic and generates employment for the local community further adds to the DNA strand. Ensuring the product is made of reused materials and has the potential to be recycled in the future further bolsters the DNA of the product, making it unique, long-lasting and desirable by the customers.
Let’s elaborate on this further through the living example of Oorjaa, a design studio that handcrafts sustainable materials into lamps for retail and custom lighting solutions. Oorjaa originated from Bangalore’s first handmade paper studio established in 1998, since then it has evolved its craft through a journey of curiosity and discovery. The studio is created from mud blocks, and twenty years hence, it still remains a green building sans air conditioning, thanks to the open structure and greenery surrounding it. Recycling water and conscious waste management is a normal daily routine that’s followed by the numerous artisans and designers working at the studio.
The studio also relies on sourcing its raw materials locally and employing local craftsmen for their unique skills. Natural raw materials such as banana fiber, bark and cork are used to handcraft exquisite lamp shades. These sustainable materials get transformed by the hands of the local and traditionally trained artisans, yielding lighting fixtures that add beauty to functionality with aplomb. It’s a win-win situation for the brand as well as for the local community that gets to thrive on its artistic skills.
Empowering the staff who carry out the manufacturing process is important to ensure sustainable practices are followed for real at the ground level. It begins from educating them about it and training them on ways to minimise waste and compost it, as much as possible, as well as recycle all natural resources to the last drop. This practice snowballs into a larger belief and confidence amongst the workforce that they themselves feel responsible to function in a sustainable way not just at work but also in their personal lives.
Sustainability, therefore, incorporates a brand’s relationship with the natural environment and community. It has to be embedded in the brand’s philosophy, which is lived by everyone involved directly or indirectly in its existence.