Chaotic, enigmatic and enthralling. Frustrating, squalid and overwhelming. Rich, mysterious and inspiring. It’s often said this is the land of paradox, and in January, as we travelled with White & Green to India, we were reminded just why.
This time round, we spent one week with our wonderful Indian partners. Together, we created new designs and discussed exciting plans for White & Green. We also reflected on the importance of the organic Fairtrade movement. Unlike the majority of textiles manufacturers across the world, our farms and factories are 100% organic and Fairtrade certified.
Conventionally grown cotton is one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world, accounting for 25% of global pesticide use. An estimated 25 to 77 million agricultural workers suffer from acute pesticide poisoning (UNEP, 2014). In fact, up to 20,000 workers die in developing countries every year from pesticides (WHO). On the other hand, chemical residue on cotton can cause issues such as skin irritation, rashes, and dizziness for the consumer.
White & Green is one of the world’s few organic cotton brands. Our products are entirely free from chemical pesticides, fertilisers, dyes and other toxins so dangerous to human health and the environment.
We are also Fairtrade certified. From farmer to factory, our workers are treated with respect. Unfortunately, this is not the norm. Even renowned global brands have been tarred by discoveries of child labour, paying below a living wage, gender discrimination and other human rights abuses in recent years. Most of you will have heard of the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013, a tragedy which killed 1,134 workers and injured thousands more.
At White & Green, we believe there are no excuses for these inhumane practices. We comply with international labour laws and we pay a fair wage for fair work. In fact, our workers are paid the highest wages of all textile factories in Delhi and Kolkata. Beyond this, they receive a pension, medical insurance for their entire family, rent allowance, sponsored meals and free education for their children. They also receive a fairtrade premium, which they can spend however they wish. During our visit to Delhi, there was great excitement as sets of cooking pots and hot plates were being distributed to each worker as part of this initiative.
Each day, we left the factory with big smiles, warm hearts and endless new ideas. Spending time with our local partners reminded us why we created White & Green. We passionately believe in the power of ethical business and we have seen first hand in India, how trade based on mutual respect can change the lives of the world’s poorest people.
Until next time India!