ESG Outlook is Sourcing Journal’s discussion series with industry executives to get their take on their company’s latest environmental, social and governance initiatives and their own personal efforts toward sustainability. In this Q&A, Dr. Sudha Anand, director of marketing at BKS Textiles Pvt. Ltd., discusses why minimalism is the best sustainable shopping philosophy.
Name: Dr. Sudha Anand
Title: Director of marketing
Company: BKS Textiles Pvt. Ltd.
What do you consider to be your company’s best ESG-related achievement over the last 5 years?
In my opinion, our best ESG-related achievement over the last five years, is securing that 70 percent of our total workforce comprises women. Empowering women to inculcate or enhance a skill and tread confidently on the path to self-reliance means a lot to me personally.
What is your personal philosophy on shopping and caring for your clothes?
My personal philosophy in shopping is minimalism. I think less consumerism is an important requirement for sustainable living. I prefer all-time favorites over fast fashion. I buy only clothes/things that are an absolute necessity and prefer clothes made from natural fibers like cotton, organic cotton, linen etc., I support women-run businesses wherever possible. I use detergents that are natural-based and have minimal environmental impact.
How much do you look into a brand’s social or environmental practices before shopping?
I prefer to shop from brands/stores that exclusively sell organic and sustainable products. I personally prefer natural fibers for comfort and sustainability. Hence, I avoid buying anything in polyester unless there is no other option, like dry-fit clothes. I love brands that use natural packaging material like paper, fabric packing or no packing at all.
Anything new you are doing to boost sustainability beyond the fashion industry?
Personally, the idea of composting has always excited me. We compost our organic waste in our house premises. We have an organic kitchen garden in our backyard, from which we get most of our daily vegetables, and I carry my own cloth bag for shopping as much as possible.
What would you say is the biggest misconception consumers have about sustainability in fashion?
I feel the biggest misconception consumers have is that sustainable fashion is not affordable. I have, on all possible occasions, spoken with a multitude of people about how this is not true, by bringing up the ‘cost per wear’ concept. A top made with Supima cotton would last much longer than a polyester top sold at a much lower cost by a fast-fashion retailer. The number of times you would wear the former before it outlives its utility will far outweigh the number of times you wear the cheaper, polyester top. Plus, as a consumer, you would be supporting the environment by reducing non-renewable energy use and GHG emissions by staying away from polyester, while you will actually be paying ‘less per wear’ for a superior, sustainable garment.
What was your company’s biggest takeaway from the Covid crisis?
Our biggest takeaway in terms of operations was that tough times call for unconventional solutions. We learned to appreciate the benefits of flexibility, and as an organization became far more open to new ways of thinking and acting. In terms of sustainability, lockdowns showed us the benefits of reduced air pollution levels and helped to strengthen our resolve to work diligently with afforestation and reforestation.
What is your company’s latest sustainability-related initiative?
The launch of ORGANITRACK during the Market Week in New York this March was our latest sustainability-related initiative. ORGANITRACK is a traceable bedding solution that uses 100 percent organic cotton in its manufacture. This cotton used is forensically tagged by Haelixa AG, Switzerland, hence establishing proof of origin and securing transparency across the entire supply chain. Third party testing verifies the integrity of marked ORGANITRACK products and authenticates their history, giving retailers and brands the comfort of standing behind the product claims made.
This forensic traceability aspect of ORGANITRACK is what sets it apart from similar organic products available in the market. The relevance of traceability becomes even more accentuated at a time like this, when there have been cases where conventional cotton has been fraudulently passed off as organic and when ‘greenwashing’ in the industry is rampant.
What do you consider to be the apparel industry’s biggest missed opportunity related to securing meaningful change?
I think the biggest missed opportunity for the apparel industry has been embracing the tenets of the circular economy—where production must be restorative and regenerative, waste must be designed out and material must be kept in circulation for as long as is possible.