Six farmers, with their backs to the camera, examine a hana plant as an artisan demonstrates how to harvest the leaves.

Innovations in the SDGs: Kantala’s Eco-Friendly Fashion for Climate Action

Spotlight on Kantala: Blending Tradition with Sustainability

In the rich, green heart of Sri Lanka, Kantala emerges as a leader in sustainable fashion innovation. Central to their mission is the revitalization of the Dumbara Hana Craft, an endeavor that has given new life to this traditional art and has significantly impacted their community. Post-pandemic, Kantala has impressively expanded its supply chain from 21 to over 50 artisans and farmers, enhancing their incomes through the development of hana nurseries, plantations, and innovative products like bio fences. This expansion highlights Kantala’s substantial role in both cultural preservation and economic empowerment.

Innovative Approaches in Climate Action: Kantala’s Revival of Traditional Craft

Artisan cleaning hana leaves, the traditional method to extract fiber and succulent from the leaf.

Kantala’s commitment to SDG13: Climate Action is deeply rooted in their transformative approach to sustainable fashion. They have creatively adapted the Dumbara Hana Craft, traditionally centered on the hana plant (Furcraea foetida), into a sustainable fashion statement. This plant requires no additional watering, pesticides, or insecticides, making it an ideal eco-friendly material. Kantala’s modernization of this craft not only conserves traditional knowledge but also integrates fair income practices and cutting-edge technologies.

In expanding hana cultivation across both internal and external plantations, Kantala has increased the availability of sustainable hana leaves. The hana plant is notably resilient, thriving in dry, arid regions and adapting well to changing weather patterns with minimal irrigation needs. This expansion supports the sustainable production of materials and aids in climate resilience.

Additionally, Kantala has reimagined the use of the hana plant in the form of bio fences. This creative adaptation is a nod to the plant’s traditional uses, providing a natural and effective solution to safeguard farmlands from wild animals and bushfires, thereby enhancing environmental protection.

In another pioneering move, Kantala leads the way in developing vegan leather from hana leaf succulents, an innovative by-product of their mat weaving process. This groundbreaking material is anticipated to be carbon negative, which would significantly further Kantala’s environmental impact and their commitment to sustainable fashion.

Two women sit on the floor of an open air room weave hana fibers through a traditional loom.
Two artisans from the Dumbara Hana Weavers Association weaving the hana fiber mat on a traditional loom.

Supporting Strategic Growth and Material Innovation with WUSC

Kantala’s collaboration with WUSC through its Volunteer Cooperation Program has provided support in their journey towards sustainable fashion and climate action. This partnership has contributed notably to refining strategies and developing eco-friendly materials. While Kantala leads the innovation and effort, WUSC’s assistance in strategic development has been a valuable supplement. WUSC’s support and diverse volunteer assignments have played a key role in improving the effectiveness and broadening the impact of Kantala’s work.

Envisioning a Sustainable Future

Kantala’s forward-looking vision includes leveraging the hana plant in various other innovative ways, such as biofuel production and carbon credit trading. These initiatives aim to maximize both environmental and societal benefits, positioning Kantala as a pioneer in eco-friendly innovation.

Kantala’s journey exemplifies the transformative power of merging traditional wisdom with modern innovation to combat climate change. Their commitment to fostering a sustainable fashion industry aids in environmental conservation and community empowerment, establishing Kantala as a model of sustainable innovation in the global marketplace.

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