Environmental News from India:
- NIFT Bhubaneswar adapted the ‘Farm to Fashion’ concept in 2013, to integrate sustainable fashion into its curriculum.
- After a government directive, the initiative is now being replicated by 15 other NIFT centers across the country.
- The textile industry, which is one of the top polluting industries globally, is currently experimenting with natural raw materials and dyes to switch to eco-friendly and ethical fashion.
When Binaya Bhusan Jena, a professor at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Odisha’s Bhubaneswar city, first looked around campus, all he could spot were concrete academic buildings. The tier-2 city had limited exposure to the fashion industry and the surroundings had little to offer for inspiration. After several rounds of deliberation with colleagues and months of observing the 10-acre campus, he had an idea. In 2013, three years after it was established, NIFT Bhubaneswar became the first national fashion institute campus to incorporate sustainability in its curriculum. The campus had ample space available.
“Odisha has a rich heritage of handloom and natural dyes,” says Jena, in conversation with Mongabay India. “We decided to use our strength and merge the available space with our state’s heritage. We concluded that sustainable fashion would be unique to NIFT Bhubaneswar,” he adds.
Following this, the Ministry of Textiles, last year, directed other NIFT centers across the country to replicate this concept, “based on their location, typographical uniqueness, and availability of resources”.
In India, the textile industry accounts for five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides direct employment to 45 million people. India’s textile and apparel exports achieved their highest ever tally in the financial year 2022, with an export turnover of USD 44.4 billion. However, textile mills are also among the top industrial polluters in the world and cause around one-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution. The emergence of fast fashion, which promotes changing trends based on celebrity styles and cheaply available clothing, has further added to the problem.
Sustainable fashion refers to a carbon-neutral process of manufacturing textiles or accessories. This not only reinstates ethics into the industry but is also linked with Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6), related to sustainable management of water.
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