Recently, our very own Erin Frumet, production coordinator at CDP, made a visit to India to tour our factories. In her own words, here’s her observation from the visit.
I’m fascinated by factories (big surprise!). There is something really special about talking to people who know how to make things; big or small, couture or simple as the perfect tote bag.
Stack of canvas material ready for processing
On my recent visit to our factory in India, I had the opportunity to meet with team members from every level of production, from sample makers and fabric dyers to quality control and management. The production line is different in every part of the world, and what makes India stand out is their commitment to healthy environmental practices and giving back to their communities.
Automated printing for our New Yorker canvas tote bags.
The factory we work with specializes in jute and cotton. Jute is a natural plant fiber, grown mainly in India and Bangladesh. Because it is a rain-fed crop, it does not need fertilizer or pesticides. Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable, so it’s a great environmentally-friendly option. Additionally, the fibers are extremely versatile. Our factory makes not only bags but also sacking geotextiles, and flooring.
Air-drying system for freshly dyed yarn skeins
Freshly dyed jute skeins
Industrial dye baths close-up
Beyond using eco-friendly fibers, our factory does all of their own dying, stone-washing, wet processing, and water treatment. This means that we can control the color and finish, as well as control the waste that goes along with it. The wastewater is processed through an electrocoagulation system, which filters the water for reuse at the factory. Solid wastes from this process are securely packaged and sent to the government for safe disposal. Waste management programs like this are becoming the standard in India, protecting the environment from a process that could otherwise be severely toxic for the local environment.
The wastewater is processed through an electrocoagulation system, which filters the water for reuse at the factory.
The awareness of the local environment is extremely important to our team in India because unlike many factories in China, most workers are local and not migrant workers. Besides making sure harmful toxins aren’t released into the environment, they also invest in education and social programs for the local community. In a country without a strong welfare system, this can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Detail of decoration on a commercial truck, Kolkata
As the world moves toward more sustainable consumption, working with vendors and manufacturers that are at the forefront of these practices is imperative – and exciting! I’m hoping more and more manufacturers move in this direction. I like to think that using that perfect tote bag is not only saving the world from plastic bags, but also supporting dyers, stitchers, and a healthy local environment in a country as rich in textile and craftsmanship history as India.
Erin Frumet is the production coordinator at CDP! She has 5 years of experience working with factories in the US and abroad.