Bleaching, dyeing, washing and treating textiles is one of the most environmentally harmful stages of the garment production chain. Huge quantities of water, energy and chemicals are used including heavy metals, formaldehyde and chlorine. These chemicals produce effluents which pollute ground and drinking water. They are also hazardous to the people working with them.

The textile industry urgently needs to find more environmentally friendly ways of dyeing and producing textiles.

Sewing naturally dyed textiles

AMMA, a young and creative social enterprise in Sri Lanka, is experimenting with natural dyes made using local products like turmeric and avocado skins to create beautiful and sustainable handmade textiles, clothes and homeware, while currently providing ethical employment for 7 Indian origin Tamil women. They aim to be employing 15 women by March 2019.

Naturally dyed textiles drying in the sun

AMMA will employ and train women who had previously worked as tea pickers on plantations carrying out back-breaking, badly paid work. They will receive better wages and flexible work patterns recognising their other roles as mothers and housekeepers, and will benefit from professional development and a life skills programme covering topics from financial management to leadership skills.

In the Amma workshop

AMMA will also be working to establish its fledgling brand, both nationally and internationally, to become a recognised name in sustainable textile design. Over the next three-years, they aim to employ 50 women. It’s an exciting project using a textile production model with hugely positive environmental and social outcomes. A model we’d love to see scaled up.

The project is based in the Nuwara Eliya Region of Sri Lanka, a beautiful area benefitting from medium and high value tourism. We hope AMMA products will be bought by foreign and Sri Lankan tourists alike. Download the AMMA lookbook here