Savitha Rao is a woman with a clear, eco-conscious vision for the planet. Based out of Mumbai, she’s an entrepreneur who believes in bridging the gap between commerce and sustainability by making products that are both good for you and the planet. Since starting her brand, Clean Planet in 2013, she has come a long way in producing a huge variety of eco-friendly textile products that are mostly available on e-commerce sites.
Rao candidly shares, “I read an article on the North Pole melting a few years ago, and that inspired me to do something that wouldn’t degrade the environment further. At that point, I was all set to launch a range of men’s accessories like cufflinks, ties etcetera. However, the article made me take a completely different route.”
Clean Planet is the pioneer in introducing the concept of vegetable and grocery cotton bags in India. “Over the last several years, lakhs of plastic bags have been saved from being used and disposed of. We’re supremely proud of the product because it has not only enabled employment for women’s groups and generated livelihood for them, but also is a godsend for the environment,” she adds.
Mumbai Lady Leads The Way in Upcycling Old Clothes
What’s most interesting is that they also upcycle old clothes and fabrics into cool and stylish bags. Rao shares that those who donate clothes sometimes receive a product made from it. But that’s not always the case; most people donate just to support the cause.
“Our community of enthusiastic donors keeps growing. People hand over used sarees, dupattas, bedsheets and even vintage fabrics to us that we then convert into unique products. Most of our gift bags, clutches, pouches, sling bags and totes are one-of-a-kind. We have made and sold more than 6000-7000 products from upcycled materials in the last couple of years,” says the entrepreneur from Mumbai.
Products Crafted Using Hand-Crafted Fabrics
Other bags at the Clean Planet include those made using India’s heritage, hand-crafted textiles such as ikat, khadi, kantha and block print. “When we use our handcrafted materials the end product is a classic that stands the test of time,” she reasons.
She also adds that the products made using vintage fabrics are the most creatively challenging because one has to work with quality and quantity constraints. Sometimes the only good part of a saree is the border and at times the border and the main body are utilised in two different products. They also embellish some of their upcycled products with hand embroidery or beads which adds to the overall appeal.
One of the most iconic products of Clean Planet are their signature patchwork tote where the patchwork is done in rural Maharashtra, the hand embroidery on it is done in Mumbai by a different group, and the final stitching by a third group altogether. “The end product turned out to be so cool that we even have men using those totes!” quips Rao.
“Our customers are from all over the world – India , USA, Europe and Japan. It makes us immensely happy when we see a customer from Netherlands buy our cotton gift bags. That makes us a cool ambassador for both the Indian culture and the environment,” she concludes.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)
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