Cotton Bags for Supporting Alternative Livelihoods

Training local fisher women to make cotton bags to support their livelihood and help reduce the use of plastic bags.

Vedharajan Balaji

Age 35, India

PROJECT: Training local fisher women to make cotton bags to support their livelihood and help reduce the use of plastic bags.

View images of the training and completed bags here.

If you are interested in purchasing products, contact V. Balaji at omcarfoundation@gmail.com.


Tell us about the work you are doing to create a wilder world.
We want to create alternative livelihoods for fisher women in Palk Bay, India. We also want to reduce the use of plastic bags. Both of these objectives are fulfilled by training fisher women in our area to make cotton cloth bags. We arranged a professional bag maker to train our fisher women at OMCAR Palk Bay Environmental Education Centre in June 2015. The participants (women) were selected with some basic criteria such as they should already have experience in tailoring, interest in work as a small team independently with the support of OMCAR foundation. We organized women from different villages for this two day training. They made about 35 bags of six different varieties in a two day training. After checking the quality of the bags with the experts, OMCAR Foundation decided to promote a business opportunity for this women tailor group to sell their products in national/international market. The profit will be shared for environmental education and women who made the cotton bags (50:50). OMCAR Foundation is now buying new machines and arranging its facility for cotton bag manufacturing unit in its Palk Bay Centre located Velivayal village, Tamil Nadu, India.


What are five (5) of your short term goals to accomplish in the next 1-2 years?
1. To improve the design and varieties of cotton bags
2. To reduce the use of plastic bags in local shops/super markets in addition to exporting other countries
3. To train and expand the cotton bag manufacturing unit
4. To ensure fair trade and equal right opportunity to women groups in earning money equal to man.
5. To improve the livelihood of families of fisher women by ensuring their economic independence

 

What are five (5) of your long term goals to accomplish in the next 5-10 years?
1. A big cotton bag manufacturing unit of 100 women with ownership/share in income
2. Self sustainable economy in local villages through this cotton bag unit
3. Promoting education/sanitation/health/nutrition in the families of surrounding villages through our team
4. Creating awareness about sustainable fishery to 25,000 students at our centre
5. Ensuring self sustainability of our environmental programmes as well as women groups.

 

How can others help you accomplish these goals?
We need your help to find suitable buyers for our products. We can ship our products in required quantities with 50% advance payment for which OMCAR Foundation will give surety. The products will be delivered in time. We are ready to ship our cotton bags to any parts of the world. Help us to sell our cotton bags to support plastic reduction in any part of the world.

 

How can the public get involved with your project/work?
Public can support by:
1. Purchasing cotton bags
2. Support us to help buy a few more new tailor machines
3. Help us improve the infrastructure of our manufacturing unit

 

What have been some successes you have had?
As a grassroots organization, we stick with reality. After a longterm work with mangrove restoration, we could restore a small area of mangroves in northern Palk Bay. Our environmental awareness has been constantly reaching about 12,000 students in schools and ,2,100 students visit our centre every year.

What are some lessons you have learned/what would you have done differently?
We have to find practical solutions that has to be adaptable by local community as well as to benefit environment. This cotton bag training was easily accepted as it is easy for women groups with prior experience in tailoring and it is benefiting environment.

 

View images of the training and completed bags here.

If you are interested in purchasing products, contact V. Balaji at omcarfoundation@gmail.com.

We need your help to find suitable buyers for our products.

We have to find practical solutions that has to be adaptable by local community as well as to benefit environment.

Be positive...we can save our nature!