When Vinita was a tiny girl running around her grandfather’s cotton and mustard seed mill, jumping on weighing scales and exploring the fields, she never imagined her life would circle back to this experience in the most extraordinary way. Today Vinita is Bhumi, an Australian-based textiles company with international reach. Bhumi is seeking to reshape the cotton industry by walking the talk on sustainable, ethical, socially responsible business practices.
Vinita founded Bhumi on a desire to inspire people to make more conscious consumer choices. Her ethos is firmly based on connection and mutual responsibility. Bhumi itself means ‘Mother Earth’ in Sanskrit, one of the oldest and most influential languages known. As Vinita says, ‘we are one big family on this earth, and together we have a duty and responsibility to care for the one place we all call home’.
Like calls to like, Bhumi has gravitated towards Fifteen Trees over the past few years in recognition of similar values. Last year Bhumi bought – and helped plant – over 500 trees. Vinita even brought her family along to get their hands dirty at the revegetation site under the Westgate Bridge. As mother of an 8-year-old, she feels it is especially important for her to model good environmental citizenship. She feels a strong sense of responsibility to ‘help guide (her daughter) to do the same as these young ones who come with so much passion, knowledge and enthusiasm, and who will have an even greater positive impact on the planet.’
Bhumi’s own positive impacts are many and varied. Vinita takes her supply chain responsibilities seriously. As a direct result of Bhumi’s ethical policies and practices, schools have been built, children (especially girls) are able to be educated near their homes, clean water has been supplied, fair wages paid, and health care provided for all workers. Vinita is quick to give credit to the consumers who make sustainable choices: ‘the fact is that every customer is a part of this with their choice to buy certified organic cotton products from Bhumi’. Like Fifteen Trees, Bhumi believes that small individual choices are vital contributions to creating broader changes.
When asked whether Bhumi’s calling card of sustainable luxury was resonating with consumers, Vinita says, simply, that it has to. ‘People have become so aware,’ she says. ‘They ask so many questions about products and where they come from, how they are made and who made them.’ There is a growing view that ‘luxury’ isn’t worth the bag it comes in if it rides on the back of child labour and environmental degradation. Luxury has to mean more than the feel of fine cotton sheets – it has to be a holistic, conscious choice, healthy inside and out. Vinita sees Bhumi as ‘an ever-growing lingering beautiful experience, one that helps people make conscious decisions that positively impact the customer, all the hands involved from seed to shelf and the Earth.’
We don’t all have the capacity to build schools and influence global trade practices. But we don’t all need to, insists Vinita. Mahatma Gandhi, a Bhumi inspiration, believed that in fact one person on their own can change very little – it is great numbers of people working together toward the same goal that will transform systems of injustice. Both Bhumi and Fifteen Trees are working towards similar goals – inspiring people to integrate sustainable choices into their daily lives.
As to how to go about this on an individual basis, we will leave you with some gentle words of advice from Vinita’s own depths of experience: ‘Really stop and have a birds eye view of your life. Break it up. Segment it out like your pantry, your clothes, your bathroom, your bedroom. Go slowly. Think about what changes you would like to make and make them one step at a time. Always be willing to adjust and re-adjust when you make changes. Make commitments and stick to them. Read labels. Ask questions!’
Interview by Sarah Hart.
Sarah is an emerging self-taught artist whose passions include the stories and experiences of women and narrative driven creative work. Her aim is to delight, to reveal glimpses of everyday beauty, and to celebrate flights of the ordinary. Sarah works across a range of media, with an abiding interest in pen and ink, mixed media and the human form.