Here are some easy green gifting ideas for an inclusive, sustainable future
Every morning, Ramiben Nangesh finishes her chores and sends her children to school before going to work at the Self Help Group (SHG) Federation in Gujarat’s Arambada village.
She is joined here by other women from the area who earn a livelihood by creating intricate handicrafts that are then transformed into contemporary apparel and lifestyle products for sustainable fashion brand Okhai. Ramiben, who is the local president of the SHG, also serves on Okhai’s board.
Ramiben Nangesh (second from left) with fellow artisans at Okhai
Over 1,400 km away, in Garhwal, organic beauty brand Asaagat uses ethically sourced ingredients and employs local women to create a range of premium skincare products. Both Asaagat and Okhai are among an increasing group of brands that are abandoning commercial mass production in favour of more sustainable practises in sync with the local culture and reviving the local economy by providing employment at the grassroots level.
Many have continued to support their employees despite business slowing down during the pandemic.
As the last festive season of the year rolls around, here’s your opportunity to pay it forward and support small businesses and artisans so that they can end the year on a positive note. We have curated a list of Indian companies that are following sustainable practices and working to create a greener, cleaner future for everyone.
Disclaimer: These products have either been used by the writer or come highly recommended by friends and family. No animals were harmed or sponsorships exchanged in the writing of this story.
Hoomanwear derives its name from a Persian word, which means I have good thoughts, good words, and good deeds.
Founded in January 2019 by Harshil Vora, a practising vegan, Hoomanwear is India’s first causewear brand and contributes 30 percent of its profits to social causes.
The brand features a range of fun T-shirts, crop tops and hoodies, all of which are plant-based with less than five percent synthetic fibres. The clothes are made-on-demand, thereby ensuring they are truly zero-waste. They also have a gift card option if you aren’t sure about what to gift.
PA.NI, a homegrown swimwear brand, promotes body-positivity while being eco-friendly. Crafted from high-grade fabric made from recycled fishing nets, PA.NI is doing its bit to reduce the microfibers that contribute to the more than 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste found in our oceans each year.
The brand was founded by Mumbai-based Leila Veerasamy, who realised there was a big gap in the market for swimwear for women with South Asian skin tones and body types. This is the perfect gift to give yourself or a loved one before that long-awaited holiday in 2021.
Okhai is a fashion and lifestyle brand that was specially created to revive dying handicrafts and provide a living to communities that have been practising these for centuries in an eco-friendly and sustainable way.
Created by the Tata Chemicals Society for Rural Development (TCSRD), Okhai has provided a living for over 2,300 artisans from Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, with a goal to reach 5,000 over the next five years.
Beauty and Wellness
Beauty and wellness Amrutam was founded in 2013 by Ashok Gupta, a former distributor of herbal medicinal products. Concerned about the ingredients in alleged herbal products, he decided to start his own line of products.
Beginning with a single wellness malt, today Amrutam has a line of skincare, haircare, and wellness products, all made from ethically sourced local ingredients. The brand also offers a subscription model for its products. The best part – if you buy more than five products, they arrange for a pick up of the empty bottles that are then recycled.
Wellness and beauty brand Amrutam promotes a holistic, sustainable lifestyle
Asaagat is a skincare line created by Gauri International, an organisation named after an underprivileged woman Gauri who did not have the means to even meet her daily needs. Asaagat makes ethically sourced aloe vera-based products and employs local women from the Kumaon region in the manufacturing process.
The organisation also funds the medical and counselling needs of these women. In addition to individual products, the brand offers specially curated gift baskets.
Founded by former engineer Krithika Prasad, Kalya shastra is an all-natural line of beauty and personal care products that use only natural ingredients for its line of hair, skin, and dental care products.
The products are made to order and shipped in eco-friendly packaging and reusable tins. An entirely family-run affair, Krithika says that even her young daughters and nephew help with the cleaning of the raw materials, packing, labelling, and photography of the products.
Tamil Nadu-based Wallistry was founded in 2017 by architects Anjanakshi Bhaskeren and Soundaryan Umapathy. The duo wanted to explore a range of contemporary products using clay.
Beginning with water bottles, today the brand also has a range of stoneware items and notebooks with intricately engraved wooden covers. Made by traditional artisans, the brand involves them in the creative process right from conceptualising the designs.
While Sow and Grow began by selling all-in-one DIY gardening kits (complete with compostable pots), the brand has diversified into various other sustainable products.
In addition to creating easy flower, herb, and veggie seed kit combos for even the most faint-of-heart terrace gardener, the online brand sells plantable pencils and calendars, jute grow bags, felt festival decorations and stationery. They also have great corporate gifting options.
One of the most unique brands on this list, Phool creates organic incense from recycled temple flowers. The idea to create the brand came to founder Ankit Agarwal as he sat on the banks of the Ganges and saw the flowers from the temples mixing with the other waste and effluent in the river, further damaging the river’s delicate ecosphere.
Phool, which employs 73 women in the manufacturing process, repurposes these flowers as incense and gives them a second lease on life in people’s homes.
While these are just a handful of suggestions, there are plenty of other brands that are not only eco-friendly but are also supporting marginalised communities to improve their lives. Remember that when you are gifting a friend or loved one any of these products, you are also gifting a stranger and someone like Ramiben a chance at a brighter future.