Dr Ela Dedhia, Head Department of Textiles & Fashion Technology, College of Home Science Nirmala Niketan, Affiliated to University of Mumbai

An International webinar on SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS AND PROCESSES was held on 4th July, 2020 by the Department of Textile and Fashion Technology of College Home Science, Nirmala Niketan, Affiliated to University of Mumbai, NAAC Accredited A Grade. Delegates included students, teachers, professionals, and others related to this field at National and International level.

The webinar was inaugurated by Dr Geeta Ibrahim, Principal of the college where she appreciated the department for organizing the international webinar, she added that it is definitely the need of the hour. The term ‘sustainable’ is what we all have to look towards and work at.

Dr. Ela Dedhia, Head of Department of Textile and Fashion Technology, gave an overview of the theme. She mentioned that each and every one present on this platform are having a common thread which is – Sustainability, in the form of raw materials used, or the processing, delivery and marketing of the merchandise. Wherever we are, we are connected to sustainability and are working toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Dedhia moderated the panel discussion including the questions raised by participants on YouTube.

She Welcomed all the participants on YouTube and gave a brief introduction of the panelist. Edfly was the Technical partner and Textile Value Chain was the Media Partner. The webinar was conducted through online video platform and telecasted on YouTube for the audience. The Video is available on YouTube.com/TFTNN.

There were two esteemed panelists during the webinar.

Dr. Anagha Vaidya Soocheta, is Head of Department of Applied Sustainability and Enterprise Development, faculty of engineering, university of Mauritius. She holds 38 years of successful career as academician, researcher and administrator. She started her presentation mentioning about the 17 UN SDG goals which were unanimously adopted by the   member states, with an aspiration to achieve it by 2030. Sustainability can be broadly defined as the ability of something to maintain itself by preserving resources and energy over a long term rather than exhausting them quickly in a short time. She quoted the definition for sustainability by Brundtland Commission of the United Nations, 1987 that meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

In her talk she said that pillars of Sustainability are Economic viability, environmental preservation and social equity. Government has introduced new laws for companies and businesses. Millions of products are there in the market but few are fully sustainable and designers play a big role in product development where the made products will have minimum impact on the environment and also improve the society. So there should be effective planning and execution of sustainable product design by careful selection of raw materials, its efficient use, planning for the final disposal, shortening the production time and drive in new products and process of innovation with diversification.

While talking about Green Production she said it helps to keep check on wasted resources in production to increase productivity. It also brings down cost and deduct impact on environment and focus on continuous improvement. Use fewer resources, whose waste also won’t be hazardous but at the same time the product formed should be of a better quality, in turn creating less or no waste. The product made should be fully recyclable, it should reduce waste, save energy source and increase product durability.

She spoke about the life cycle assessment, also known as Cradle to Grave where the environmental impact is checked right from the raw material required for the product to its final disposal, an assessment is required at every stage to see the impact on the environment.  Researches are being carried out at every stage to find new material and processes.  Few examples were from the University of Mauritius, Department of Applied Sustainability and Enterprise Development, on Processing and Transforming Kitchen Fibrous Wastes into Lifestyle Products. In this research the kitchen waste was transformed to value added products which included nursey pots, pencils with fragrance, coasters, candles, etc. Another project was Biogas Production from organic household waste, which did generate a good amount of gas. Up cycling Waste Cooking Oil into Soap was one more project, which is a sustainable alternative to prevent the wrong disposal of waste cooking oil that causes serious impact to the environment. The waste oil collected from industry and food outlets was filtered and purified with ginger to improve the quality of the oil followed by saponification process.  Similarly, there were many other valuable projects, for which prototypes were made.

She concluded with a statement that ‘We will be affected in some way by the choices we and our society make regarding the earth and its resources and how we can preserve the earth and ensure the continued survival of future generations’.

Dr. Madhu Kothari, was the next speaker who is currently living in London, and working as a designer and coordinates garment production. She has completed Ph.D with topic – Animal Adornment of Kutch and Rajasthan. She talked about Designing, Merchandising and Production from commercial point of view, where she described in detail the process and important aspects of it as carried out in UK. First point which she mentioned was that it is not easy to bring sustainability into commercial use. Starting with designing, the customer directs the whole designing and production process. Inspiration for the design comes from the customer side and WGSN trend forecast helps the company to guide further. Brands and companies which cater to fast fashion, they take inspiration from the fashion shows across the world. For fast fashion companies it is also necessary to stay updated with the trends and make the products available at the right time. While the merchandiser too plays an important role in the designing aspect, the study of the past sales records and reports which shape (silhouettes) is in more demand with respect to what size, colour and fabric got sold the most.

She also mentioned that shape, size, colour fabric, trims are important aspects but along with that the price factor should also be taken into consideration.  When a design is made it undergoes many changes as per the correction and comments from the buyer and customers, so the back and forth process and cost factor are inter connected.

While talking about sustainability Dr. Madhu mentioned that first of all there are very few recycled fabrics that are easily available for commercial use, secondly the major and the most important question is whether the customers are ready to accept products made by recycling. Another aspect of sustainability is that, if the designers are in UK and production is done in China, the back and forth process of sending the correction of the sample does not makes the process sustainable. She also added that sustainability and recycling cannot be achieved in a day, it’s a journey. For any product to be 100% sustainable, all the materials that go into the making right from threads, to trims to tags must be recyclable. Making use of recycled fabric for fashion products is the recent development but with commercial perspective there are many challenges as the manufacturer of the recycled fabric requires large order quantity and secondly its also have the cost factor.

The most important point which she mentioned in the webinar was that the mindset of the customer must change. Due to fast fashion, customer wants good products yet cheap and do not like to repeat the garments. When this mindset of customer will change, it will automatically bring in the sustainability aspect. She ended the presentation by presenting the recycled collection made by her company, and how the fashion influencers helped in marketing of these products.

The session was very enlightening and it briefly touched upon various minute but major factors involved in sustainability with commercial perspective.  After the presentation from both the speakers, there was an interactive question and answer session where the questions from YouTube as well as from zoom were answered. Dr. Dedhia also mentioned that Sustainability at every stage is the buzz word!