This Madurai Couple's Simple Mission Is A Serious Crusade Against Plastic

In a world grappling with the environmental hazards of plastic, Krishnan and Gowri from Madurai have embarked on a mission to revive the age-old practice of carrying one’s shopping bag. Their initiative, The Yellow Bag, is a testament to their commitment to reducing plastic pollution and fostering sustainable living.

What to know? The couple’s journey began in Chennai, where they realized their consumption patterns were contributing to environmental degradation. The birth of their daughter in 2010 was a turning point, prompting them to take action for future generations. In 2014, they launched The Yellow Bag, producing cotton cloth bags and packaging pouches, customizable in fabric, size, and print, with prices starting as low as ₹4 per bag.

To dedicate more time to their cause, Krishnan and Gowri quit their jobs and moved to Madurai in June 2015. They collaborate with women’s groups and small enterprises in villages to produce quality, affordable cloth bags. These bags have gained popularity among event managers, retailers, and exporters, catering to a diverse clientele.

However, the path to eco-friendliness wasn’t without challenges. Convincing tailors to shift from synthetic fabric bags to cloth bags, training new tailors, and persuading customers to embrace natural cotton bags over-dyed ones were significant hurdles. The couple insisted on not dyeing bags to conserve water, though they do print logos and captions on them.

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The journey so far: The Yellow Bag sources fabric locally, with an in-house unit handling cutting and printing before distribution to a network of women tailors. After stitching, the bags undergo quality checks before dispatch. This process not only provides employment but also fosters a community of micro-entrepreneurs.

The initiative has seen remarkable growth, with a 300% increase in revenue year-on-year for the past two years. The team has expanded from just Krishnan and Gowri to 40 members, producing around 1,000 bags daily, with plans to increase to 3,000.

Beyond manufacturing, The Yellow Bag also focuses on spreading awareness. They’ve worked with over 500 customers and conduct discussions with students and communities. The couple introduced the concept of “Plastic Bootham” (Plastic Monster Costume) and authored a Tamil book on the environmental impact of plastic. They’ve also established urban cloth bag tailoring clusters, empowering speech and hearing.

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