Sustainability From A-Z

By: Beatriz Salgado

Day 4: December 12th, 2017

Today we visited several organizations: Upasana, Pitchandikulam, Yatra Arts Media and lastly Marc’s Café, though the last one wasn’t an organization, it was the highlight of realizing the significance of sustainability and what it means to be sustainable.

I must start with the first visit of the day at Upasana. The design studio founded by Uma, is textile-based company designed for social responsibility, which produces clothes that go beyond vanity.

The organization has several different projects revolved around sustainability and conscious consumption. While Uma talked and as we watched a movie that explained the evolution of cotton and textile, I realized how many of us don’t stop to think about the process of making a piece of clothing. That was what was so impressive at Upasana, giving importance from the very first step in making a garment, from the seed of the cotton that the farmers will pick and later be transformed in clothing. It was touching to understand the importance of textile and farmers in cotton communities within rural India. Upasana strives to change impact of fashion industry into a positive one.

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After Upasana, we went to Pitchandikulam. They are a unit under Auroville Foundation dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest of Tamil Nadu.

The foundation strives for environmental awareness, capacity building in the community, health camp and even health camp for cattle. Additionally, Pitchandikulam engages in medicinal plant awareness. For example, they teach what kinds of remedies such as, herbal tea and food are healthy and prevent illness. The organization has a pop up store with local products, which later on the trip I went to and was dazzled by what I found. There were so many different natural products each with a specific function for healing and benefitting the wellness and health. It was so encouraging to see so many options of remedies made from natural ingredients directly from the evergreen forest of Tamil Nadu. It was a completely new perspective on ways to be sustainable with the environment.

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Later, we headed to the Yatra Arts Media, which was one of the organizations that really caught my attention. They focused on producing documentaries on social and health issues to educate school children. They also raise awareness by performing in street theatre and involving the locals.

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It was just so fascinating to see such a creative outreach to raise serious issues and provoke behavior change and education through art. The various cultural programs made by the arts foundation was truly inspiring and a new way to engage with communities.

We finally ended the day at Marc’s Café. Little did I know that later on, the cozy yet bustling place would become our little ‘hub” for working and having access to Wi-Fi. Marc’s Café was such a warming and friendly environment, the “Starbucks” of Tamil Nadu. We had such an enriching talk with Marc, the owner. He talked about how the cultural trend for coffee started in India and how he got interested in the Coffee business.

While he explained his interest in wanting to buy beans from the producer and the importance of knowing the whole process of where coffee comes from was when I realized the real meaning of sustainability. I was able to connect all the pieces of the puzzle and notice the immense role sustainability plays on practically every issue. It was then that I realized how sustainability was possible in such an array of topics from fashion, cosmetics, well-being, architecture, music, education, art, environment, culture and even coffee! It was then that I started thinking about two questions. “How do we think sustainably?” “How do we live sustainably?”

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