‘Recycled fabrics would thrive on people’s support’
Surya Dinkar, the creative mind behind the Earthworks Innovatives, talks to DT Next about her empowering journey in running a company with 99% women employees and also voices her concerns over people’s attitude towards the environment
CHENNAI: Hailing from a media background, Surya Dinkar’s eyes fell on Chennai’s plastic pollution during her stay in Europe, where she worked with a Dutch NGO that was fighting against the cause. “According to me, the biggest environmental threat concerning Chennai is plastic bags,” starts Surya Dinkar, founder of Earthworks Innovatives. The company produces products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly.
“The major reason for me to start the company is my love for animals. A few years ago, I rescued a cow, choking because of plastic bags. That’s when I realised that to save animals, I have to save the environment in which they are living,” says Surya, who is also an animal rescuer. The attractive feature of Earthworks Innovatives is that they work with tribal artisans from Madhya Pradesh (Gond art), West Bengal (Santhal art) and Odisha (Pattachitra). However, the designs in the products are that of animals. These tribal artists paint on the cloth bags, sent to them from the stitching unit in Puducherry, which is solely managed by women. “I want the brilliant works of these artists to travel across the world. It is very difficult to push the traditional Indian art forms abroad. I hope these bags inspire people to both conserve Indian art forms as well as realise the importance of carrying reusable and eco-friendly bags,” adds Surya.
When asked about the designing aspect of her products, Surya says that she doesn’t involve much in the creativity of the artisans as the designs are the artist’s way of expression. The company, which is majorly B2B, sells products whose price range starts from Rs 40, which can sustain for at least two years. “People’s attitude towards cloth bags should change. They should learn to reuse cloth bags and not throw them away when they get dirty. The idea of reusability should increase,” says Surya, concerned about the future of sustainable products. Their unique products include cloth gift wrappers, coasters, upcycled newspaper products, and hand-painted bags among others.
Now, the company, which also has clients overseas, concentrates more on upcycled products and usage of 100% recycled fabrics. “We take used cotton, shred them and use them for our products which are as strong as the normal cotton. Recycled products will be the future only if people start following recycling methods,” she says. She also adds that the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) should be taken seriously.
Surya and her team are now working with the rural women, associated with Self Help Groups in Villupuram and Puducherry, enabling them to have financial security. “In our company, we have 99% women employees. It is not easy to sustain in the industry and I am happy that we provide affordable sustainable products,” she concludes.