Eco-innovations for sustainable fashion and menstrual hygiene presented by college students win accolades at ECHO- the WWF India National Youth Summit 2020

New Delhi : WWF India conducted the second edition of National Youth Summit 2020 under its youth engagement programme, ‘ECHO- Building Environment Conservation Heroes’. ECHO aims to create environmentally conscious individuals in colleges by bridging the gap between environmental awareness and conservation action which can lead to creation of sustainable solutions for the most pressing environmental issues today. The theme for this year’s summit was based on SDG12: Responsible Production and Consumption. A total of 55 colleges participated and under the mentorship of WWF India, these colleges conceptualised and executed their innovative ideas and projects that work towards producing and consuming goods and resources in line with a sustainable ecological footprint.

NIFT Delhi’s initiative Tattertales promotes a circular economy of fast fashion by upcycling fabric waste generated by the fashion industry, adopting sustainable fashion practices and spreading awareness on topics such as product life-cycle, upcycling, and much more. Tattertales held fabric donation drives, street plays on fast fashion and clothes swap events to spread their message, saving upto 90,000 gallons of water and 4200 kgs of scrap fabric saved over the period of 9 months by reaching out to 40,000 people through campaigns and various other platforms. Designers like Esha Rao, Bhavini Bhavya & Anwesh Sahoo supported ‘Capsule’ competition, stressing the importance of sustainability in fashion.

The team at Sree Ayappa College, Kerala innovated the idea of producing biodegradable sanitary napkins from natural raw materials like water hyacinth. In the villages of Kerala where their target audience lies, this team found a readily available natural resource and fashioned it into a sanitary napkin that was affordable and biodegradable. They provided necessary skills to the women of these villages to create employment while promoting sustainable livelihoods among these rural women. The team conducted seminars on sustainable menstrual products in 5 villages, engaging with and training more than 500 women how to create their own biodegradable menstrual products. The team has formed a partnership with international NGO, CARE for their project.

The winners were awarded the coveted Panda trophy and will receive mentorship and guidance from WWF experts as they continue scaling up their product.

Speaking about the summit, Radhika Suri, Director Environment Education, WWF India said, “National Youth Summit under our youth engagement programme-ECHO is an incredible initiative as it allows the young innovators of India to be at their creative best. We provide them the platform, but the credit goes to the students who ideate, design, develop and implement their environmental conservation projects with such confidence. This year we were able to influence 15,000 students and almost 1 Lakh people through our program and through our ECHO leaders. We try to inspire these students to embark on a long-term environmental journey, but in reality, these intelligent young minds inspire me and everyone they interact with. Our future is bright in the hands of these green leaders of tomorrow.”

During the summit, the students were addressed by another successful young entrepreneur, Peter Hjemdahl, Co-Founder, Repurpose Global. A recent graduate himself, Mr. Hjemdahl’s story of starting his own business and making it to the Forbes 30 under 30 list was incredibly encouraging to the students. The students were also addressed by an esteemed panel and experts, Mr. Sudhanshu Sarronwala, former Executive Director, Communications, WWF-International; Mr. Rohan Chakravarty, Creator, Green Humour and Ms. Megha Agarwal, Environmental Writer. The theme for the 3rd edition of National Youth Summit 2021 was also announced at the award function: “Change the Way We Consume Food.”

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