"Our mission is to encourage consumers to become active citizens in spreading an environmental as well as a social message through their consumer choices."
Vimlendu Kumar directs Green the Map, whose mission is to raise awareness on environmental issues, as well as to provide secure employment with reasonable wages for underprivileged people.
"We believe that by transforming waste through innovative procedures we can create high quality, useful products, empowering consumers with alternative choices about their shopping habits.
"We recycle Tetra Pak packaging, rubber, vehicle tires, and waste fabrics sourced locally in Delhi. New, high quality products like accessories and stationary are made from items that have been thrown away, giving them a second life. This is just a small step towards changing attitudes to waste and recycling, and we hope eventually to impact consumers' mindsets and shopping habits.
"We are also concerned with empowering people living under economically deprived circumstances. Most of the people we work with are tailors and we offer them a decent salary and good working environment. We also offer training, thereby giving them a decent means of livelihood.
"There is a rising awareness of the negative impact our lifestyle has on our planet, therefore demand for sustainable products is growing. The story of our products, their good design and quality, has created a widespread awareness for our products in and around Delhi, as well as throughout India.
"Creating a name for ourselves has not been easy in this competitive market. Especially with products crafted from waste and considering the shopping habits of the people in India. Some people didn't understand why they should pay slightly more for a bag made out of waste rather than for a 'new' bag. The initial financing crunch was a problem but above all, the greater challenge has been reaching a wider audience. Value management is also tricky. Paying fair salaries to artisans and trying to offer products at a competitive price is a difficult task. But in the long run the design and the quality of our products became accepted, and word-of-mouth helped to build consumers' trust in our brand and our cause.
"Slowly, we started getting considerable press coverage. I directed a movie, Disposable, which deals with the waste issues in Delhi and won an award.
"Since 1980, the percentage of biodegradable matter in the waste of an Indian family has decreased from 90% to around 30-40% in 2000. The waste problem has picked up speed in the last two decades, which is the main reason behind our endeavors. The idea is to focus on the disadvantaged tailor as well as the consumer of our product, which is the tricky part.
"Our mission is to encourage consumers to become active citizens in spreading an environmental as well as a social message through their consumer choices. Talented tailors and seamstresses also benefit from this project as they earn a good salary in good working conditions and receive further training.
"We procure the waste material from waste markets or is delivered by people who pick scrap items. Our designing team creates the new collections and often collaborate with the tailors. We are currently working with artists that specialize in Madhubani artistry, as well as with women from the countryside who specialize in many of India's traditional embroideries. Waste materials include fabric, flex, and Rexine as well as tetra paks, though using them is a delicate task and requires high level of skill. Most of our products are named after the people who influence or contribute to our work like our tailors, such as the Ramesh wallet or the Prakash bag.
"We make sure that artisans are fairly paid in relation to the cost of living. We do not employee children, and never buy raw materials produced or supplied by children.
"Being associated with Novica is a step further in bringing about our mission to the international platform. This is a great initiative and we hope that our collaboration will help bring about a change in attitude about the environment.
"Keep in mind though, that because of the nature of procuring the material used in manufacturing our products, there will always be a slight variation in color and placements of motifs/patterns, but the theme will always remain the same."