FLO Incubation, i-TIC, IIT Hyderabad hosted a Knowledge Lab on Sustainable Living in the New Normal

15% of the total fabric used by the fashion industry worldwide is wasted: Zuzana Gombosova, a material researcher

Cotton is considered the world's dirtiest crop because it uses 16% of the world's pesticides: Zuzana Gombosova


Hyderabad, January 07, 2021.......FICCI Ladies Organisation Incubation, i-TIC Foundation the Technology Business Incubator (TBI) at IIT Hyderabad and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Hyderabad) jointly hosted a Knowledge Lab virtually here in the city today on Sustainable Living in the New Normal: Winning Strategies for women entrepreneurs in the Jewellery and Fashion Industries.

Speaking on Sustainability and Design, Ms. Zuzana Gombosova, Cofounder of Malai Biomaterials who shot into limelight by winning the second edition of Circular Design Challenge (CDC) at Lakme Fashion Week (LFW) last year said: "everyone is talking about sustainability, but sometimes that's all they are doing".

Malai Biomaterials manufactures a water-resistant bio-composite material that looks like leather, using raw materials such as coconut water and banana fiber.

Zuzana Gombosova, a material researcher from Slovakia said 60-80% of the product impact on sustainability lies in the choices made at the design and development stage.

Zuzana along with her cofounder C S Susmith supplies its vegan leather called ‘Malai’ (which is named after the coconut flesh) to a few international labels. 

Usharani Manne, Zuzana Gombosova, Mudrika Khandelwal, Kiran Kuchi, Surya Kumar, Saritha Chilakapati, Priya Gazdar

Speaking further she added that roughly 15% of the total fabric used by the fashion industry is wasted. Washing clothes, meanwhile, releases 500,000 tons of microfibres into the ocean each year---the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. According to her, an estimated 92 million tons of waste is created annually from Fashion.

The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. The global fashion industry is generating a lot of greenhouse gases due to the energy used during its production, manufacturing, and transportation of the millions of garments purchased each year. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide. The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water in the world. The industry uses the equivalent of 12, 402 Olympic swimming pools of oil each year, she stated.

Zuzana made interesting revelations in her presentation. Plastics are found in an estimated 60% of garments, she said. Cotton is considered the world's dirtiest crop because it uses 16%  of the world's pesticides.

Overproduction, ineffective recycling systems, ineffective use of resources, use of toxic compounds are some of the main issues confronting fashion industry, Zuzana shared. Linear Economy, Recycling Economy are things of past.

Circular Fashion is the new buzz word. Its goal is to ensure that clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, new business models increase their use, and old clothes are turned into new. In this concept the production of an item and the end of its life are equally as important, she said and cited examples of few brands such as Refash. The brand uses waste and leftover material from industries, to create their limited edition pieces. She spoke about Stella McCartney, a British fashion designer known primarily for her fur-free and leather-free apparel. 

Zuzana shared with her audience her journey of Circular Fashion. She explained whether it makes sense to follow circular fashion business-wise. why are those products so expensive etc. She also shared her journey of Malai. There is more to coconut than you thought, She explained her Vegan Fashion. She shared how they were able to make leather from coconut water. She explained pleather which is biodegradable and compostable.

Dr. Mudrika Khandelwal, Associate Professor of IIT Hyderabad spoke about Innovation possibilities for sustainable living. She said when you select material wisely you may get the same or even better results. So make choices of materials which have less impact on the environment. She spoke about circularity, the principle that used or discarded products serve as raw materials for new products or materials. And she gave 6Rs--Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Repair and Recycle.

Dr Suryakumar of IIT Hyderabad spoke about Incubation at IIT, Govt Schemes and Tech for small businesses.

He explained how IIT is better equipped and has a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The program was curated exclusively for pan-India FLO members and the IITH entrepreneurial ecosystem. This two-day program is designed to address the innovation, incubation and digital marketing learning requirements of women entrepreneurs in Fashion and Jewellery industries. 

The 100 plus participants could gain insights into how to employ innovative technologies for customer engagement and to increase revenues; how to create engaging virtual stores and user-friendly experiences and how to apply social media marketing strategies for a robust online presence.

It is a two-day virtual event to be held tomorrow as well on "Business Continuity Amidst the Pandemic: A workshop on improving your online presence". Two experts one from Tech Mahindra and another from IIM-B will facilitate the workshop. Malhar Barai, Head-Marketing (APJ & I) and Digital Marketing at Tech Mahindra will speak on Search Engine Optimisation and Prof. Seema Gupta, an Associate Professor--Marketing at IIM-B will speak on Online Marketing using Social Media.

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