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EcoFriendly…. Sustainable… What is all this?

EcoFriendly – literally means something which is friendly to the environment, i.e which doesn’t harm the environment in its present form of existence. Many products or processes are promoted as being eco-friendly in todays market. Some are genuine, others … just a gimmick. For example, I recently saw a packet of thermocol plates labelled as EcoFriendly!!! How could they even label it so, when thermocol can “never” biodegrade, nor is it easily recyclable!

These days, ‘Eco-friendly’ is a generalized term used for anything that is organic, made from natural or plant-based elements, is biodegradable, compostable, recycled and so on… For example, a cotton or jute bag is considered eco-friendly over a plastic or polyester bag, because they are made from plant-based elements , are reusable and are biodegradable. A paper plate, palash or areca-nut leaf plate is considered eco-friendly, because it is biodegradable or compostable. A solar powered lamp is considered eco-friendly as it uses the natural resource of sunlight over a disposable battery or fossil fuel based electric supply. A reusable menstrual cup or cloth sanitary pad is considered eco-friendly as it is reusable, as against regular sanitary pads which are non-biodegradable and potentially a biohazard. Rainwater harvesting system is considered eco-friendly, since it captures rainwater instead of extracting water from the ground or rivers using electricity or fossil fuels.

Are Aarohana's upcycled-handwoven products really ecofriendly or sustainable?

Similarly, Aarohana’s upcycled-handwoven bags are also eco-friendly, because they are upcycled from waste plastic!

Upcycling is recycling a product from its existing form to a higher value form. Downcycling is recycling a product from its existing form to a lower value form.

We make beautiful, trendy and sturdy handbags, home décor and office products from waste plastic bags; hence the term UPCYCLING.

We are asked this question by many people that, if our bags are made from plastic, how are they eco-friendly. Their question is absolutely valid… They have heard all their lives that plastic is not eco-friendly, so how do we claim our product is eco-friendly. We have a very straight forward, yet logical answer to this question!

When you look around in your neighbourhood, your streets, railway tracks, mountain sides, picnic spots, junkyards and moreover, in your own dustbins … What waste do you see the most? Waste plastic isn’t it? When it lies as it is, it is a harm to the environment. What is environment? Plants, animals, fish, bird and finally humans. Plants are unable to germinate if their seeds fall on plastic; animals, fish and birds consume or get stuck in plastic, thus die an unfortunate death; finally humans are facing a huge problem, which is like a TICKING TIMEBOMB! The earth’s surface is getting covered with plastic waste; our land and water bodies.

First of all, plastic is non-biodegradable i.e it neither dissolves in water, nor becomes soil. It stays in the environment for hundreds and thousands of years.
- Secondly, plastic easily catches fire, fumes of which are carcinogenic for humans and other animals.
- Thirdly, it gets stuck in gutters and streams and enhances incidences of flooding.
- Fourthly, it is consumed by fish or birds, inturn consumed by humans. So the effects of its harm will go on and on.

Now if we, Aarohana EcoSocial Developments, are picking up this waste plastic or stopping it from going into the waste stream in the first place, and making it into a product which is long lasting, aren’t we making an effort to conserve the environment?

Then isn’t our product eco-friendly?

We think it is and we have made all efforts to make it eco-friendly… Overall the process we employ to make it, is also eco-friendly… How? Lets see:

- Aarohana upcycles 7-50 waste plastic grocery bags (carry-bags or polybags) in each of its upcycled-handwoven product. Check out our product range on www.facebook.com/aarohanaecosocialdevelopments
- Aarohana uses recycled polyester made from waste PET bottles in weaving the waste plastic bags together. PET is a plastic used to make bottles, which are used to package drinking water, soft drinks, beverages etc.
- Aarohana uses all other raw material in its products, which is either made from cotton and other recycled material. For example, our belts and inner lining is cotton, some of our inner lining is recycled polyester (again made from PET bottles), our product labels are made from waste flex banners and our tags are made from biodegradable paper.
- Aarohana’s process of making the fabric is completely eco-friendly and handmade. We do not use any chemical or heat treatment or electricity to make the fabric. The waste plastic is manually cut by our employees, with just a pair of scissors. Then the plastic strips are manually rolled on a traditional charkha and woven into a fabric using a handloom. Both these equipment are completely powered by human power, thus generating employment for our tribal youth and women. Hence, neither electricity nor any heat is used to melt or change the form of this plastic.

We are happy that our products are eco-friendly in many ways, and not just one!

This is where I would like to bring the word ‘Sustainable’. Sustainable means, which lasts for a long time.. in our case, the bags are durable and hence they last for long time. But, here the word sustainable means, it goes hand-in-hand to conserve the environment, is a boon to the society and is also making economic sense! Our products are sustainable, because they are using materials and processes which satisfy the three conditions above. For example, if we used heat or electricity in our process of recycling, it would harm the humans and other life, through fumes from heated plastic. Our present process doesn’t do so. If we would have used a raw material made of virgin polyester for our belts or inner lining, we would have made a joke of ourselves that while we claim we are upcycling and eco-friendly, we are using virgin polymer in the product. If we would have used a material in the product which was very hard to find or expensive to afford, we would have had to discontinue the product.. Hence all these incidences would have failed our brand miserably in the long run. But now, that we are taking care as mentioned above, we are being able to answer all your questions with confidence and truth!

Way forward


Apart from this, we are constantly exploring ways to use more sustainable raw material and sustainable manufacturing processes. For instance, we plan to use harvested rain water for washing plastic, use natural detergents and sanitizers to wash and sanitize our plastic, which are as effective in cleaning and disinfecting these waste plastic bags. We are also closing the loop by accepting our products at the end of their lifecycle from customers and ensuring its safe disposal or further recycling. Thus, making our product more eco-friendly, more sustainable! We are continuously seeking suggestions or comments from our well-wishers! You can write back to us without hesitation. It helps us think better and improve our work.

- amita.aarohana@gmail.com
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