Bleaching, printing and dyeing 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.

AMMA, a young and creative social enterprise in Sri Lanka, is experimenting with natural dyes made using local products like turmeric and discarded avocado skins to create beautiful and sustainable handmade textiles, clothes and homeware.

Naturally dyed textiles drying in the sun

As well as being environmentally sensitive, AMMA also prioritises workers’ rights. AMMA (Tamil for mother) employs women whose work in tea plantations or factories became impossible when they had children. Women working at AMMA are able to work part time around their children’s needs and are paid a decent wage.

They also benefit from professional development and a life skills programme covering topics from money management to leadership skills. Now, all the women involved in the project have opened savings accounts.

Amma is working to establish it’s fledgling brand, both nationally and internationally, and to become a recognised name in sustainable textile design. Over the next three-years, they aim to employ 50 women.

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.