About Our Hand Printed Textiles
Sustaining Ancient Traditions While Promoting Environmental Sustainability
Many people ask about the origin of our cotton ECOlunchbags and stainless steel ECOlunchboxes.
Our dynamic and colorful textiles speak of places and traditions far away yet the design of our lunchbags with napkins is contemporary and well suited for the modern eco-consumer. The cotton lunchbags are machine washable, come with matching napkins and designed to pair with our non-leaching stainless steel lunchboxes.
The best place to begin our story is in the villages where ECOlunchboxes Founder and CEO Sandra Ann Harris has sourced the hand-printed fabrics for her line of unique lunchbags. Deep in the Gujarat deserts there is an ancient textile tradition of hand-printed fabrics.
The Khatri craftsmen use wooden blocks, screens and wax batik techniques to create richly colored fabrics with traditional designs. The dyes used are a mix of both natural plant-based dyes and synthetic dyes for brighter colors. Scattered throughout the villages of the Kachchh region are printers carrying on their exquisite textile traditions.
It is here that the ECOlunchbag fabrics come from as we source in the fair trade tradition directly from the artisans. For hundreds of years, and even today, the Khatri printers have distinguished themselves worldwide with their hand-printing techniques. Their eye-catching designs, coupled with the warmth and imperfection of their handwork, have been used traditionally in local kurtis, saris and other Indian clothing.
Small workshops are set up in village huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs and, more recently, in simple concrete block homes with corrugated metal roofs. Between color dying, the printers spread their fabrics out on the sandy ground to dry and set the dyes in the scorching heat of the desert sun. Much of the dying and fixing is still done in enormous cast-iron pots over wood burning fires. This is a low-tech process yielding lovely results.
ECOlunchbags are a modern melding of these hand-printed textiles with modern design. The combination promotes environmental sustainability and supports these artisans and their textile arts.
As modernity reaches its long hand from the urban centers of the West deep into India, the demand for block prints, hand screen prints and wax batiks made by the local people continues to shrink. Instead, the youth favor Western factory-made fashions from commercial fabrics as seen on television. ECOlunchbags with their matching stainless steel ECOlunchbox 3-in-1, which is also handmade in India, create a cultural bridge between the remote desert artisans and the forward-looking, eco consumers who purchase our line of lunchware designed to be healthy for people and the planet.
“People cannot survive on tales of tradition alone,” said Sandra Ann Harris, who founded ECOlunchboxes in 2008 and previously worked for a humanitarian aid NGO in Vietnam. “There must be a vibrant market for these artisan traditions. It is a simple tale of supply and demand. No demand for the hand-worked cloth? Then, of course, production of these textile arts will dwindle and eventually disappear. These cultural and artistic traditions will be erased by cheaper fabrics from machine-printed, big-city factories.”
At ECOlunchboxes we are proud to honor these craftspeople and the traditions of their hand-worked cloth as well as play a small part in working to ensure their perpetuity.
Lunching sustainably can mean many things. Perhaps the homemade food you pack in our lunchbags and boxes comes from sustainable sources. Certainly reducing your family’s reliance on leaching and non-biodegradable plastics is a step toward environmental sustainability. Eliminating lunchtime waste is also environmentally helpful.
Furthermore, please join us at ECOlunchboxes in celebrating our fabrics – an endeavor in sustainability in itself. For by using these traditional textiles can indeed say that we are additionally taking positive steps toward sustaining these textile craftspeople and their cultural traditions.
Thank you for joining us at ECOlunchboxes in lunching sustainably – in so many ways! What could taste better than that?