This article will share a personal & business journey of a sustainable entrepreneur. Keep reading!
Hello! I’m Najia Qazi, fashion designer, sustainability advocate and founder of Sustainable Narrative based in Dubai, UAE.
The term “Sustainability” in the words of the UN World Commission on Environment and Development definition means: “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” I’d have to answer– No. In my 20s, I traveled all over the world using too many planes, consumed too much and bought fast fashion I didn’t need.
It was through trial and error that my purchasing choices became more sustainable. I read a lot of articles on the subject, watched documentaries such as Before the Flood and enrolled myself in a program focusing on SDGs from the University of Columbia.
However, I laid the stepping stone for my business, Sustainable Narrative after studying Sustainable and Ethical Fashion at Central Saint Martins, London, UK in 2018. I was introduced to the current gap in the market in UAE market wherein the concept of sustainability was practically missing.
Having worked as a fashion designer with various brands for the past few years, I began to question how the entire design system works and decided to find a solution for glaring issues such as the unfair pay gap, high rate of production leading to overconsumption, excessive wastage of resources, etc.
As the fashion industry is second only to the petroleum industry for its carbon footprint and is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions — more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Vast quantities of water are used to produce materials such as cotton too, and 20% of all waste water generated by any industry is caused by the dyeing and treatment of fabrics. That’s before we even consider the human cost associated with clothing production — with the horrific Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013, in which 1,138 people died while employed by international brands, being one of the most shocking examples of how bad working conditions in fashion production can be.
PERSONAL & BUSINESS JOURNEY: Sustainable Narrative
At Sustainable Narrative, our mission is to create awareness by providing sustainable design-based solutions to various businesses in Dubai, UAE. We aim to incorporate the regenerative business mindset that includes the process of restoration, renewal of the current resources, and creation of sustainable systems.
The concept recognizes the importance of the economy needing to work effectively and efficiently at all scales – for large and small businesses, for organizations and individuals, globally and locally. Transitioning to a circular economy does not only amount to adjustments aimed at reducing the negative impacts of the linear economy. Rather, it represents a systemic shift that builds long-term resilience, generates business economic opportunities, and provides environmental and societal benefits.
I think businesses need to incorporate the 3Ps rule which is people, profit, and planet to achieve ethical and sustainable goals in the competitive market. There is a need for a radical transformation: we need to work together as an industry with commitment and innovation and challenge the status quo. Also, we need to evolve from just reducing our impact to making a positive impact, but this can only happen if we all work together.
However, I believe that the transition to a more responsible future must also involve both consumers and the government. We are seeing a growing demand for sustainable products as several local start-ups are now stepping into the game with trendier alternatives and substitutes to existing choices, often motivated by a desire to truly improve the environment for future generations. It is becoming increasingly critical that governments promote environmental reform through regulation and policy.
But an important question remains: to become truly sustainable, how must the lifestyles and consumption habits of consumers change? I believe that in this day and age, things are evolving all the time, but I enjoy learning, so I hope to become better at reducing my impact both in my personal life and with Sustainable Narrative.
My aim has always been to promote the concept of Sustainability; not just as a popular or current trend; but rather as a lifestyle worth embracing, which is most needed in the walks of design/fashion or any other sector that is by reaching out to like-minded individuals and companies who/which are also keen on making an impact in sustainable development through partnership and collaborations.
As it’s clear that an opportunity exists following the global movement for green solutions owing to the mass media coverage on crucial issues such as the impact of the usage of plastic on our oceans, climate change, etc. The research and data are available from reliable resources allow us to absorb the same into our relevant areas of work effectively and efficiently and translate it further for our intended audience.
In the near future, we hope to bring together an eco-community and its sustainability-driven goals and initiatives under one umbrella, not only in the UAE but also in other parts of the world. We aim to do this by way of effective collaborations and teamwork and continuous research and exploration into the realms of sustainability.
* Written by Sandrine Najia Qazi.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Fashinnovation’s columnists are their own, not those of Fashinnovation.
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