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Behind ‘Our Ecosystem’: Crescent’s Quest for Sustainability

At Crescent Bahuman (CBL), our aim is to always deliver green environmental and product solutions.

Since seeing is believing, we recently launched “Our Ecosystem,” a project documenting CBL’s 25-year-long quest of creating the greenest ecosystem the denim industry has ever known. Yes, it’s a heavy claim, but it’s one that can be better understood with a little bit of historical context.

Crescent Group, a major Pakistani conglomerate with over 60 years of experience in diversified businesses such as textiles, banking and steel, earmarked in the 1990s the village of Bahuman in Punjab, Pakistan, as the site of what would eventually become South East Asia’s first vertically integrated denim facility. Crescent’s vision was to create a 600-acre greenfield project that would spark a cultural change in an area challenged by high unemployment and low literacy rates.

Such ambitious plans required a well-planned strategy, as creating a self-sustaining ecosystem full of plant and wildlife within a vertical denim facility, in what was originally marshland, was a real challenge.

The roadmap to a truly green ecosystem was divided into three main areas:

1. Water Conservation and Recycling

With wetlands as far as the eye could see, the first task was to recover land and eventually make it fertile. Along with introducing drainage and irrigation systems, CBL decided to use a little help from Mother Nature: By planting 500,000 eucalyptus trees, the company was able to expedite the drainage of waterlogged land—thirsty eucalyptus trees will drink up to 4 gallons of water per day.

The results after the first year were outstanding. The water level had reduced to 15 feet below surface level, enabling construction to begin, and the village began to change. Our land recovery efforts not only benefitted the company but also neighboring areas that had, until now, been waterlogged and not conducive to farming. This in turn created opportunities far beyond the walls of CBL, thereby dramatically reducing unemployment in the surrounding districts.

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Once the land was reclaimed, CBL immediately declared war on water wastage. While this may appear like a soundbite, we have insisted on monitoring and supplementing our water table for the last 25 years to ensure our factory doesn’t extract more ground water than it reintroduces back into the water table.

2. Soil, Plant & Wildlife

The soil was now ready to be upgraded. The company began ploughing pesticide-free, green leaf manure and proceeded to phase out the thirsty eucalypti, which were coincidentally staving off birdlife. They were replaced by 200,000 fast-growing poplar trees, effectively jumpstarting CBL’s ecosystem.

As one can imagine, every species of plant was studied and introduced for a very specific purpose. Predators such as snakes were detracted by planting jujube trees, while birds and bees were given a warm welcome by meticulously balancing flora and fauna. To date, the company has planted over 850,000 trees on site.

Wheat and rice were cultivated to provide CBL employees with easily accessible, non-profit crops. Additionally, sustainable technologies such as rice husk boilers were introduced to help utilize our agricultural byproducts in order to generate steam, thereby reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

We also discovered that the soot from our rice husk boilers was rich in potassium, a perfect ingredient for CBL’s compost waste-management systems that collect and sort cotton trash, pumice stones and kitchen waste to create green, pesticide-free manure for the soil.

3. Our Community

CBL has blossomed into what could be considered a tiny city. The factory grounds are designed to house over 3,000 residents, providing homes for employees and guests. All residents enjoy uninterrupted power through CBL’s own power-generation facilities, of which 50 percent are due to be converted into solar by 2020.

Since the start of our operations in 1994, CBL has had the privilege of playing a formative role in over 100,000 careers. The factory has also maintained a vocational training center, as well as a non-profit primary and secondary school on the premises. To date, CBL has provided vocational training to 11,000 adults and further provides quality education for 1,200 children per year. The Crescent School has proudly been voted the best school within a 40 km radius and has played a vital role in enforcing the continuity of CBL’s core value systems.

In addition to CBL’s educational initiatives, the company actively promotes gender equality in the workplace, employing over 1,500 women.  Our female employees are also encouraged to participate in various on-site seminars organized in collaboration with such associations as HER project ™ that include discussions about health, self-care and self-defense.

Sustainability isn’t just a slogan for CBL—it’s an ethos. Our verticality is integral to our ecosystem as it allows complete control over our product, whether it’s cotton, fabric or garments. We know all denim is gorgeous, but it’s not always eco-conscious. It’s important for our industry to reflect on all environmental, human, and material elements in order to fully realize how sustainable denim can be.

Click to learn more about CBL.