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Indian Fashion Industry Must Embrace Safety, Says Suki Dusanj-Lenz at Lakme Fashion Week

 India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world

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Indian fashion industry
Sabyasachi Mukherjee's show at Lakme Fashion Week 2011 on day 1. Wikimedia
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  • The country’s coordinator for Fashion Revolution India stressed upon the global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry
  • The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory
  • The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution so that what the world embraces what’s safe, clean and fair 

Mumbai, August 20, 2017: The Indian fashion industry needs to embrace the highest safety standards, says Suki Dusanj-Lenz, country coordinator for Fashion Revolution India.

For this, India must first stop using chemicals that are banned in the rest of the world, she said, talking about a global movement that desires greater transparency, sustainability, and ethics in the fashion industry.

The movement followed the death of 1,138 workers in Dhaka while making garments in the Rana Plaza factory, which collapsed after a structural failure in the building on April 24, 2013. The workers were making garments for the international market.

“The sad thing is the staff was complaining about the building but nobody listened,” she said.

Dusanj-Lenz is an advocate for gender equality, sustainability and champions the need for a fair and transparent fashion industry. She spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) Winter/Festive 2017.

“Carry Somers and Orsola De Castro came together and founded the Fashion Revolution, which has spread to 100 countries. We are working towards a safer, fairer, cleaner fashion industry.”

Dusanj-Lenz is also Executive Director at the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director at MARD, a people powered initiative campaigning against discrimination.

Also Read: Eco-friendly Fashion: Should India Contribute on this Booming Global Market?

The aim of Fashion Revolution was to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way clothes were sourced, produced and purchased so that what the world wears was made in a safe, clean and fair way.

“We want to empower every spectrum of the supply chain to transform the industry into a more sustainable one.”

Would she like to share about the sustainability issues of the Indian fashion industry?

“There are layers of complexities in the fashion industry but one thing for sure is that India must look to international standards for the safety of the staff?

“There are chemicals that are banned in other parts of the world, yet India still uses them.

“Are our lives any less than those of another country? In Kanpur, the leather making industry is astonishingly hazardous to the staff. Have you watched that movie ‘Erin Brockovich’? Remember that chemical that was banned in the US that is the subject of that movie. Well, the Indian industry still uses it and our staff is exposed to the dangers of such chemicals,” she added.

“Let’s not have the people that make our garments or shoes pay the price for our fashion,” she added.

Talking about sustainable fashion in Indian fashion industry, Dusanj-Lenz said: “On the upside, India also has some incredibly sustainable brands and a massive recyclability culture which we must celebrate and encourage. Sustainable Fashion Day at the LFW brought many of them together.”

She said around 80 per cent of the garment makers in India were women.

“It’s important that we hear their voice and work to campaign for them and not against them. Fashion Revolution wants to educate the consumer about the damage throw away fashion has on our environment.

“We want to inform people about the dark side of polyester and viscose both in a landfill and the chemical process… There is always a price to pay for cheap fashion. Someone somewhere is paying for it,” she added. (IANS)

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7 Days Challenge: Not ‘Eat, pray, love’ but ‘Eat, move, live’

According to the website of the Challenge, its objectives are: To emphasise the role of individual action for sustainable development.

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The motto of 7 days challenge is to, 'live, eat and move.' Wikimedia Commons
The motto of 7 days challenge is to, 'live, eat and move.' Wikimedia Commons
  • The 7-day challenge focuses on practice of living a sustainable life
  • The idea is for people to start living a smart and healthy life
  • It will not only benefit individuals but the country they are living in as a whole

Want to eat healthier? Or move around town in a more sustainable manner? Or just lead your daily life in a smarter way? You need to try the 7 Days Challenge.

The Swedish Embassy here, in association with the TERI School of Advanced Studies, has organised the Challenge targeting youth from classes 9 to 12 in schools and graduate and post-graduate students in colleges across the national capital from January 17 to 23.

Also Read: Energy drinks tied to serious brain injuries in teens

The Challenge is basically a call to action for the participants to practise sustainable lifestyles and consists of seven days of practical sustainable solutions focusing on three categories: Eat, move and live.

“The 7 Days Challenge is an attempt really for a short period of time trying to encourage people to think, eat, live, move smartly and sustainably and doing so in a short period of time and in encouraging best practices and also creativity around sub-solutions,” Swedish Ambassador Klas Molin told IANS, explaining the concept.

“Coming up with new ideas, not just emulating, copying which is being done, but thinking creatively,” he said, adding that in the first round, young people who are using modern technologies and thinking in new ways and whose future will be more impacted by today’s choices, have been targeted.

After Kenya and Indonesia, India is the third country where this challenge has been organised. Pixabay
After Kenya and Indonesia, India is the third country where this challenge has been organised. Pixabay

India is the third country, after Kenya and Indonesia, where the 7 Days Challenge is being organised.

But why seven days?

“Calling it the 7 Days Challenge, I think, partly is psychological, that it is a manageable period of time,” Molin said.

“Surely we can all devote a week to living smarter, thinking more consciously and acting, travelling and shopping more sustainably. It is a reasonable, manageable amount of time.”

According to the website of the Challenge, its objectives are: To emphasise the role of individual action for sustainable development; to spread awareness about the need for adopting practical sustainable solutions and lifestyles at the individual level; to build individual capacity and motivate individuals to improvise and innovate their choices and lifestyle towards more sustainable ones; and improve their own quality of life.

Also Read: Remain healthy during winter with these healthy tips 

Explaining the concept of eating, move and live, Ambassador Molin referred to a kitchen garden within the Swedish Embassy compound in terms of “eat”.

“Many people believe in growing their own vegetables right next door. It is not only nice to look at, it is very practical, it is healthy,” he said. In terms of “move”, he gave his own example and said that back home in Sweden he bicycled to school and then to work in professional life almost every day.

“Since I was in middle school or junior high school, I biked to school and back. I biked to work.”

The 7 days challenge is all about living a healthy and sustainable life. Wikimedia Commons
The 7 days challenge is all about living a healthy and sustainable living. Wikimedia Commons

Molin asserted that biking is “certainly the fastest and most convenient way” of getting about a modern city like Sweden’s capital Stockholm. Here in the Swedish Embassy, he said, staff members and colleagues are encouraged to carpool more, including with his own official car.

In terms of “live”, Molin again gave the example of the Embassy and said the building was fitted with solar panels. He also said that a system has been developed within the Embassy complex — which only uses LED lights — to create composts by pooling in all organic waste.

“We have pipes under the park, under the paved area and also in the back and all the rainwater or most of the rainwater is collected underground,” Molin said. “It’s rainwater harvesting and we use it during the dry season for irrigation and watering.”

“We want to be champions in combating climate change. We want to be at the forefront, on the cusp of development when it comes to living, eating and moving smarter and conserving energy and preserving our pristine nature.”

Molin said that the last few governments from all walks of the political spectrum in Sweden have embraced these issues.

Riding bicycles is one thing which the 'move' aspect of the challenge focuses on. westbrookcyclesdiscountcode2015.wordpress.com
Riding bicycles is one thing which the ‘move’ aspect of the challenge focuses on. westbrookcyclesdiscountcode2015.wordpress.com

“We have very progressive policies regarding incentives and disincentives when it comes to vehicles… We just introduced of January 1 new rules as to taxation of private vehicles where there are great incentives for going electric, hybrid, etc. And stronger disincentives in using older technology and older cars.”

The Ambassador also pointed out that Sweden has managed to have continuous GDP growth while at the same time cutting down on CO2 emissions. “So, growth is not contingent on old technologies and you know pumping out pollution. You can achieve growth in a smart way,” he asserted. As for the 7 Days Challenge, the participant who comes up with the most innovative idea or solution will be awarded. IANS