In partnership with several sustainability-minded fashion designers, green entrepreneur Kevin Kumala has launched the #Iamnotplastic campaign. Liviani Putri reports.
It’s not just what we throw away that pollutes the planet – it’s what we wear. “Believe it or not, fashion is actually the second most polluting industry in the world after oil,” says Kevin Kumala. He is referring to scientific studies that have found that, among other statistics, the apparel industry accounts for 10 percent of global carbon emissions, while 25 percent of the chemicals produced in the world are used in textiles.
Kumala is the entrepreneur who founded Avani, a Bali-based company dedicated to replacing plastics with solutions made from renewables, in 2014. The company is a one-stop-shop solution for all eco-friendly packaging products ranging from shopping bags and F&B packaging to hotel amenities. Kumala describes his venture as aiming to become Southeast Asia’s leading purveyor of alternative packaging based on renewable resources.
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“Statistically speaking, studies have shown that a close to 9 million plastic particles enter our oceans on an annual basis,” the young entrepreneur notes. “This phenomenon has caused a massive global epidemic. Entrepreneurs are the agents of change that can put this to an end.
“We strive to contribute to address environmental challenges by supplying a wide array of alternative options to a variety of industries and helping businesses realise their commitments to sustainability. Avani is now available in multiple countries bringing the same mission – replacing disposable plastic products in an effort to strive for a cleaner and greener Earth.”
As time has gone on, Kumala has realised that his mission is not just to make and sell eco-friendly products. He believes that his role is to turn Avani into a social enterprise. With this in mind, he launched the #Iamnotplastic campaign at Jakarta Fashion Week last October, in partnership with several sustainability-minded designers: Nonita Respati of Purana, Kleting of KLE, Carline Darjanto of Cotton Ink and Nina Nikicio.
“The hashtag has a double meaning,” Kumala says. “First, it means that a business partner should not be using plastic. Second, it symbolises that the company is transparent – that it is not ‘plastic’, but real. So #Iamnotplastic has become a slogan for Avani. We are not just a business, but also we are educating – and spreading a positive virus among clients.
“We chose Jakarta Fashion Week as a platform because the fashion industry is so influential today. Fast fashion is something that is very unsustainable, with all the cotton that they’re growing, the raw materials that they’re consuming. It is taking up land and increasing the use of pesticides and water. From the raw material side, it is very unsustainable, and resource consuming. You’ve got start somewhere to become more sustainable, because it’s a very long supply chain. Fashion companies can make a start by replacing plastics with compostable products.”
Why work with Nonita, Kleting, Carline and Nina? “We chose those designers because we believe they are individuals that truly are trying to strive for sustainability with their brands,” says Kumala. “Nonita and Kleting are good friends. We often talk about how polluted our oceans are. When this opportunity came up, they were the first two people that came to mind, because they are always trying to seek solutions to become more sustainable. Both of them have already implemented new business processes to reduce their toxic chemical and plastics usage.
“As for Carline, Cotton Ink’s office just happens to be right across from Avani, and we know the brand really well. We believe Cotton Ink also has the itch to become more sustainable, even as the company is getting bigger and bigger. Nina Nikicio is also a friend of mine. We both love to think outside the box and, up to today, we’re still collaborating. We are trying to raise awareness of the usage of plastics in the fashion industry.
“I think that each of these brands brings a lot of different advantages. For example, Cotton Ink is a brand that would be more relevant for Generations Y and Z, Nikicio is a very niche brand with cult followers. Nonita is a higher-end brand and Kleting is more about ready-to-wear fashion. We purposely decided to collaborate with people serving different market segments, in the hope that our message will get across to as many consumers as possible.”