AIAYU IN INDIA
India is an incredible and immense country that is impossible to speak of in singular terms as it is a vast, ancient, and diverse sub-continent which is home to over a billion people – the second biggest population in the world. Many communities in India have deep connections to ancient histories, which has created a stunning array of local craft cultures across the country.
We were drawn to India because of its unmatched skill in cotton farming and manufacturing. Additionally, we wanted to invest in the Indian farmers and suppliers who are working hard to produce things ethically and sustainably in a system where, due to global demand for cheap cotton, conventional production is deeply entrenched.
ORGANIC COTTON – A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
We are very conscious of the negative impacts of conventional cotton farming. For this reason, we made sure to do things differently when sourcing our cotton in India. We exclusively use 100% organic cotton grown in rainfed regions of India which are certified by both SA8000 and GOTS.
We are very careful that our organic cotton is grown and produced according to the highest ethical and sustainable standards from seed to final garment.
We buy the majority of our organic cotton from Chetna, a non-profit collective of small family farmers. Chetna started in 2004 in response to the ecological damage and poverty conventional cotton farming had created throughout India.
Chetna teaches their farmers how to grow cotton in a manner which is regenerative for the planet – using less water, increasing soil health, and protecting biodiversity. They buy all their farmers’ cotton at above-market prices set in advance contracts, so farmers earn a higher and more reliable income.
The number of families Chetna works with continues to grow every year – converting more and more cotton farms to organic agriculture.
ZERO WASTE INITIATIVE
The textile industry is known for its excessive waste – disposing of millions of tonnes of textile cuttings and scraps each year. Given the exhaustive amount of resources it takes to create textiles, this is unacceptable. To help address this issue, we have set up a zero waste programme in India for all our cotton products.
Annually, we reuse 2000 kilos of organic cotton scraps leftover from both our own production and that of other brands. We use a lot of these cuttings to make necessary items for our products, like ribbon for gift wrapping and cloth for hang tags, instead of relying on paper or plastic. In fact, the complimentary cloth tote bag you can select to receive when you shop on our website or in our stores is made from leftover fabric stock that has been saved from landfill and incineration.
We also upcycle this “waste” to create larger one-of-a-kind items for sale, such as our Raw Rugs. We donate all of the profits from the zero waste products to a local Indian school for disabled children called TEARS, an acronym for Train, Educate And Rehabilitate Socially.