In 2009, news roll was packed with reports about the dismal state of affairs in rural India. The year recorded an alarming number of farmer suicides (916) and caused a rippling effect in the west, making one Englishman, Seth Petchers, take action. “A lot of export wear is produced in India, but the share that the farmers get is almost negligible,” says Petchers, who started Shop for Change, a non-profit
company that works on the fair trade principle and hopes to give back to the grassroot levels.
Started in January 2010, the company works with over 5,300 cotton farmers in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. While Anita Dongre and her designer label, AND, were the first to adopt this ethical shopping programme, more and more companies are now opening up to the idea of environment-friendly products that provide a better share to farmers.
Apurva Kothari and Titi Kotecha’s new clothing brand, No Nasties, is one such offshoot. The “guilt-free” green brand offers certified fair trade, organic clothing that is ethically and sustainably made from seed to garment. “The one big turning point came through a newspaper article. It was about how the cotton belt in India was being renamed the suicide belt. That’s when I decided to do something,” adds Kothari, who launched his brand last month.
Today, Kothari and his green-collared gang will be seen exhibiting their latest designs at the Shop for Change exhibition, to be
held at Carter Road today. Besides clothing, the promenade will turn into a green zone, buzzing with competitions, debates and talks on environmental issues. What’s more, you can also enjoy some mango and cashew samplings. “We wanted to open up to more avenues. We are now extending our programme to provide Fair Trade-certified mango products that are on offer for special tastings,” adds Petchers. “The idea is to invite people to switch over and opt for an eco-friendly Diwali this year, and order products like mango pickles and mango jams this season.”