House of Lonali

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Trash Talk (3rd Edition)

EventsLakmaal Rodrigo

House of Lonali is honoured to have been a part of Trash Talk,Third Edition, an event organized by Ananta Sustainables and Zero Waste Lanka, a community for sustainable initiatives working towards a greener Sri Lanka, held on 23rd October 2018, at the MAS Innovation centre. Trash Talk was developed as a space for exchanging, learning, sharing and collaborating around solutions for sustainability, plastic pollution and waste management.

With a huge range of local and international industry experts as well as other stakeholders being present at the platform, it was a great opportunity to exchange ideas, learn from each other and collectively contribute towards protecting the environment.

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SESSIONS IN BRIEF

CSR LANKA

The event started off with a talk by Thilina Prem Jayanth from CSR Lanka about the Business of Waste. CSR Lanka is an initiative with a mission “To improve the quality of life in Sri Lanka through the stakeholder transformational CSR as part of their business DNA.”

Name explained about CSR Lanka’s latest project, a waste collection program that runs on a point system, which is set to be unveiled on the 26th of October in Kaduwela.

The program requires consumers to register at the facility and periodically hand over non-biodegradable waste in exchange for points, which can either be redeemed for cash or  for sustainable products.

EVERYDAY HEROES: PEARL PROTECTORS

Next up was a “Everyday Heroes” session featuring Pearl Protectors, a local organization striving to protect Sri Lankan marine environment by raising awareness, advocating against pollution and mobilizing like-minded, passionate individuals to save the environment. They highlighted several ways in which the marine environment in Sri Lanka is being destroyed and also emphasized on how we are poisoning ourselves by ingesting marine animals that have been subjected to pollution. Plastic pollution, destruction of coral reefs, emergence of a port city that hasn’t undergone proper assessments, high influx of tourists and locals at national parks and in the sea for whale watching, oil spills, illegal fishing were some of the topics discussed.

Pearl Protectors help was instrumental in cleaning up a 30 tonne oil spill in Muthurajawela recently, for which the team used cotton sacks to remove the oil from the beach. Colomboplogginggrace, a competition to clean up beaches, is another one of the many programs initiated by Pearl Protectors to help protect our marine life.

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PARLEY FOR THE OCEANS

Presenting the next initiative to protect marine life was Captain Oona Isabelle Layolle, who is currently in Sri Lanka with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans to raise awareness on ocean conservation.

Captain Oona is a former Captain of Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation organization that uses “direct action tactics and information campaigns to protect marine life and inform the public of their plight.” Having grown up travelling the world with her seafaring family, she has dedicated her life to fighting against the destruction of marine life and is now a veteran of 9 Sea Shepherd missions all over the world which include missions to prevent shark finning, protect endangered fish and study ocean pollution due to micro plastic.

Parley for the Oceans is a non-profit organization founded by designer and artist Cyrill Gutsch in 2012 as a “SPACE WHERE CREATORS, THINKERS, AND LEADERS COME TOGETHER TO RAISE AWARENESS FOR THE BEAUTY AND FRAGILITY OF OUR OCEANS AND COLLABORATE ON PROJECTS THAT CAN END THEIR DESTRUCTION.” , with a focus on plastic pollution. The organization has partnered with several fashion brands such as Adidas, Net-a-Porter and Stella McCartney to raise awareness on plastic pollution, with the most notable of them being their collaboration with ADIDAS on a shoe made in part from ocean plastic.

Parley faces marine plastic pollution with a strategy referred to as AIR; which encourages people to:

  • Avoid plastic wherever possible

  • Intercept plastic waste and

  • Redesign the material itself and work on designs that bring awareness.

Parley’s latest project in Sri Lanka is a beach cleanup on Crow Island to be undertaken by 1000 people from local churches.

EVERYDAY HEROES : OCEAN INTACT

The next EVERYDAY HEROES session welcomed Ocean Intact, a group of school going teenagers advocating to protect and preserve the oceans. The group raises awareness on ocean pollution, organizes beach clean-ups and are members of the Good Market community, where they rally support for ocean conservation and sell eco-friendly stationery, bamboo straws, compostable tableware, natural fiber bags etc to fund their projects. Founder Janek De Silva and Thasanya Ekanayaka spoke about their initiative to minimize the use of plastic straws by using paper and metal straws. Emphasize was placed on starting small and taking small steps as individuals to tackle a huge problem and effect change.

ANANTA SUSTAINABLES - TRASH SCULPTURE

The audience was given an opportunity to get a first hand experience of creating Ananta Sustainables’ latest project, a trash sculpture of a dolphin, through an artfully curated video. The project was initiated to raise awareness on plastic pollution within the coastal communities and brought together a group of locals, travelers and foreigners to create a dolphin sculpture filled with trash collected from beaches in the area.


WHY WE DO IT : PANEL DISCUSSION

The last session for the day was a panel discussion with Lonali Rodrigo of House of Lonali and Chullaka Hapuarachchi of Eco360.

Lonali discussed her beginnings as a designer and what inspired her to venture into sustainable fashion. Although Sri Lanka is one of the largest apparel manufacturer in Asia, much of what is manufactured is exported. Keeping this in mind, Lonali ventured into sustainable fashion to raise awareness on sustainability and promote smart eco-friendly fashion choices in Sri Lanka. Seeing artfully crafted material being thrown away due to regulations inspired Lonali to source for different fabric cutoffs and rejects to give them a new life. Over the past couple of years, House of Lonali has partnered with local artisans to create sustainable and ethical clothing.

Sustainability is not exclusive, it’s for everyone. Sustainability should also be fashionable and consumers should be given the choice to buy clothes for their aesthetic appeal, not just because they’re upcycled. Keeping that in mind, we are constantly striving to make our clothing items more affordable and to make items for different audiences, items such as shoes, notebooks and bags just to name a few.  

Lonali also explained how upcyclists can partner with big companies to upcycle products, be it paper, plastic or fabric and to merge communities to design and manufacture products for the community.

Then the audience was addressed by Chullaka Hapuarachchi of Eco 360, a company that specializes in compostable manufacturing. Chullaka spoke about the early days of his eco-friendly initiatives, such as the recycling plant her started 5 years ago and about how Eco 360 came to be. Eco 360 uses starch paste material to manufacture compostable bags and garbage bags and are currently in the process of designing and manufacturing compostable coffee cups and cassava bags. Chullaka highlighted the importance of differentiating between biodegradable and compostable materials. Compostable material is 100% biodegradable whereas items made out of Oxo biodegradable material look like they biodegrade but actually degrade like plastic.

Both Lonali and Chullaka were presented with a question by organizer and founder of Ananta Sustainables, Savera ; what can the audience do to be responsible citizens and care for the environment?

Lonali discussed the importance of knowing the value of what you’re buying and seeing through the exterior values to find out the story behind the brand or the item. Ask yourselves What goes into it? Who makes these? What’s the impact we make as customers?

Lonali raised the issue of the gap between customers and manufacturers, where the customer doesn’t connect with the manufacturer, especially when it comes to fashion. The audience was encouraged to engage with the product so that you automatically start valuing and connecting yourself with it and to set an example to the rest of the people.

Chullaka shared his views on the topic, explaining that we have to work together to put the product out and to educate people and sessions like these, is why we need to get involved and that It’s the people’s power that changes things.

They were later joined by a volunteer of the Robin Hood Army, an international organization that distributes excess food and fresh food to those in need.

The Sri Lankan branch, initially comprising of 6 members, now boasts over 500 volunteers.

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