Let’s reduce, reuse, recycle

Let’s reduce, reuse, recycle

Designer Runa Ray tells you how you can contribute to a greener planet

Hand painted cotton muslin showing bleeding flowers ; to denote what we are currently doing to our planet.

The back of
the hand-painted
dress showing the
destruction of
the forests by man.

Sustainable fashion aka ‘Eco Fashion’ is a growing design philosophy aiming to reinvent the fashion ‘system’ to one that is socially and environmentally responsible; reducing the human impact on the environment.

Runa Ray

Not many are aware that unused clothes cause landfills! The goal of sustainable fashion is to increase the value of products by prolonging the lifecycle of materials, reducing energy consumption and the amount of waste while educating people to practice environmentally friendly consumption. 

Sustainable or slow fashion can be seen as an alternative trend against fast fashion (designs that move quickly from the catwalk to retail stores). As a designer committed to creating great clothes with a focus on the environmental impact, I am constantly investigating and prototyping new fabrics, production methods, etc.

Here’s why you should consider switching to sustainable fashion in a big way:    

*Cotton consumes a lot of water and usually requires the intensive use of pesticides and herbicides that poison and contaminate the soil, ground and river waters.

*Lycra, nylon, rayon etc. are all petroleum-based and require a chemical process to be produced.

*Recycling of plastic pet bottles to extract yarn is an innovative re-use example.

Aloe Vera top with
dandelion hand
embroidery and
chlorophyll printing
of leaves.

*Fabrics made using aloe vera, lotus, banana stems, bamboo and milk are all comfortable, and have a much less impact on the environment than cotton. These natural yarns use less water for its fabrication and do not consume a lot of pesticides.

At the New York Fashion Week, I introduced sustainable methods of printing using chlorophyll in place of chemical dyes. These fabrics made from aloe vera, lotus etc. were organically dyed, using the plant dyes of Indian madder, pomegranate and Areca nut.

Embroideries were done only by hand to reduce the carbon footprint caused by machines. We are constantly innovating on our production line to reduce the use of sewing machines.

Sustainable fashion can be more expensive, but why not pay a little bit for a product that will last longer while reducing your carbon footprint?

The clothing industry is a major pollutant of the environment with only a small percentage of clothing being recycled or reused; the rest end up in the landfills.

The more aware and educated we become on the consequences of our clothing purchases, the greater the opportunity for all of us to reduce, reuse, recycle and contribute to a greener planet.