Sustainable Practices

Sustainability is part of a trend to consider the whole instead of the specific.

Sustainability emphasizes relationships rather than pieces in isolation. Sustainability is about understanding our situation, and developing communities in ways that are equitable, and that make sense ecologically and economically.

— Center for Sustainable Communities

Following topics are covered in this head. Click on the links below to directly go to the related topic or simply scroll down to read all of them

  • Sustainable Health
  • Sustainable Education
  • Sustainable development of Society by women empowerment & child development
  • Self Help Groups
  • Microfinance
  • Eco-friendly practices

Sustainable Health

Sustainable health means, taking responsibility of one’s own health, through preventive measures.

It’s a preventive approach; proactive in nature taken even before the onset of a disease. e.g. taking less sugar in food after a certain age to avoid diabetes.

A balance state of mind, body & spirit .Such a state can be achieved through exercises, kriya yoga. In simple terms by being aware of what we eat, drink, and taking guard of toxin levels in our body.

Taking natural food & medicines to maintain health.

Remember: Health is Wealth!

Sustainable Education

Education for sustainable development aims to help people to develop their attitude; skills and knowledge to enable them make informed decisions for the benefit of themselves and others, now and in the future, and to act upon these decisions. Sustainable education means integrating sustainability and learning opportunities across all subject areas in life and alter social thinking & practices to influence local-conditions, globally.

Artisans should explore all available basic educational opportunities for their children.

They should also explore learning possibilities under various programs & utilise the facilities provided by government.

Education makes people confident to maintain their traditional livelihood in a more organised manner.

Sustainable development of Society by women empowerment & child development

Women Empowerment

Women remain in limbo because there are so many decisions, which have variety of influences in their lives. Unless they are governed by women themselves, talking about women sounds hollow. Take all possible steps for women empowerment such as strengthen her knowledge bank, educate, remove any fear factor instilled in her, respect & cherish her, develop & refine her skills, make her financially strong, help her boost self-confidence, take care of her health & needs, help her balance her work & family life, involve her in all important decision-makings, let the reproductive decisions rest with her, help her join women’s development groups and the local Self Help groups, provide her with means of entertainment, etc. Women should be given equal rights in all spheres.

Child Development & child rights

Efforts should be made to render care and stimulation for children’s needs in their early stages of life.

  • Artisans should realize that children are the future guardians of their traditional and rich heritage and livelihood too.
  • Hence impart best available education first to your children without any gender bias. Equal opportunity for girl as well as boy child.
  • Do not employ them in your work at all.
  • Artisan’s parents should look after their physical, nutritional needs carefully. Children should be allowed to play out door & indoor games.
  • Other important areas need to be looked after are emotional & language content of children do not use abusive language with children.
  • Children should be allowed to socialize with their neighboring mates, school mates.

Self help Groups

Self-help groups are voluntary, small group structures for mutual aid and for accomplishment of a special purpose. They are usually formed by people who come together for mutual assistance in satisfying a common need, overcoming a common handicap or life-disrupting problem and bringing about desired social and/or personal change. The initiators of such groups emphasize face-to-face social interactions and the

assumption of personal responsibility by members. They often provide material assistance, as well as emotional support; they are frequently “cause” oriented, and promulgate an ideology or values through which members may attain an enhanced sense of personal identity.

SHGs are formed by NGOs, Government agencies or Banks. These are the three types of Self Help Promoting Agencies or SHPAs.

Self-help groups may exist separately or as part of larger organizations. They may operate informally or according to a format or program. The groups usually meet locally, in members’ homes or in community rooms in schools or other centres.

In self-help groups, people share their issues with each other. By doing this their pain gets reduced to a bit and not only this but their problem gets solved.

SHGs confer many benefits, both economic and social.

Benefits of Self Help Groups

These groups represent a unique approach to financial intermediation. That combines access to low-cost financial services with a process of self management and development for SHG members.

Enable members of the group to grow their savings and to access the credit which banks are increasingly willing to lend.

SHGs can also be community platforms from which members can become active in village affairs, stand for local election or take action to address social or community issues (the abuse of women, alcohol, the dowry system etc.)


A type of financial service provided to unemployed or low-income individuals or groups who would otherwise have no other means of gaining financial services. As the financial services of microfinance usually involve small amounts of money – small loans, small savings etc. – the term “microfinance” helps to differentiate these services from those which formal banks provide .The goal of microfinance is to give low income people an opportunity to become self-sufficient by providing a means of saving money, borrowing money and insurance.

In other words, Microfinance is the provision of a broad range of financial services such as deposits, loans, payment services, money transfers, and insurance to poor and low-income households and, their micro enterprises..

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs)

Microfinance institutions are defined as institutions whose major business lies in providing microfinance services.

They are not-for-profit organizations like NGOs (non-governmental organizations), credit unions and other financial cooperatives, and state-owned development and postal savings banks. They are also For Profit organizations like non bank financial institutions (NBFIs) and commercial banks that specialize in microfinance. India’s microfinance sector is fragmented with more than 3000 microfinance companies (MGIs), NGOs and NGO-MFIs.

Form of MFIs:

Type of entity Non-profit Mutual benefit For-profit
Association Society under Societies Registration Act 1860 Cooperative which can be just a savings and credit cooperative or be further licensed as cooperative bank. Association of persons
Trust under Indian Trusts Act 1920 Charitable trust Mutual benefit trust Investment trusts
Company under Indian Companies Act, 1956 Section 25 Company Mutual Benefit (Sec 620A Nidhi Company) Company which is further either an NBFC r a bank

These institutions offer small-scale financial services in both the forms – credit and savings, especially to the poor in rural, semi urban and urban areas. These financial services are meant to help them in undertaking economic activities, mitigating vulnerabilities to income shocks, smoothening consumption, increasing savings and supporting self-empowerment. There are a number of microfinance companies in India, which play some pivotal roles to the development of India.

Services provided by Microfinance Institutions

  • Savings
  • Loans
  • Insurance
  • Pensions
  • Remittance
  • Financial Counselling
  • Risk Mitigation Products

Microfinance Institutions in India

Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance: India

Association for Sarva Seva Farms (ASSEFA)

CAPART – (Council for Advancement of Peoples’ Action & Rural Technology)

Mitrabharati – The Indian microfinance Information Hub

Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency (MYRADA)

NABARD – (National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development)

SADHAN – The Association of Community Development Finance Institutions

SEWA: Self-help Women’s Association

SKS India – Swayam Krishi Sangam (ranked 44th in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Streedhan – Banking with Rural Women

Working Women’s Forum, Madras, India

Bandhan, Kolkata (West Bengal) (ranked 2nd in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Microcredit institution of India (ranked 13th in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Saadhna Microfinance Society (ranked 15th in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Grameen Kota (ranked19th in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Sharada’s Womens Association for weaker section (ranked 23rd in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

Asmitha microfinance ltd. (ranked 29th in Forbes list of top 50 microfinance companies in the World)

SADHAN – The Association of Community Development Finance Institutions

Microfinance Support Institutions in the Formal Sector

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development

Rashtriya Mahila Koshs

SIDBI – Small Industries Development Bank of India

Tamil Nadu Womens’ Development Corporation

Ecofriendly Practices

Macmillan thesaurus defines ‘ecofriendly’ as designed to cause as little harm as possible to the environment.

Ecofriendly practices refer to all those activities which contribute towards a greener and safer environment.

Need for ecofriendly practices

In today’s scenario when pollution levels are increasing day by day and terms like Global Warming are the topics of heated debates, future of planet earth appears to be in grave danger. Going green is the need of the hour. Ecofriendly practices provide a long term sustainable solution to this problem as these practices are easy to follow and have tremendous benefits. Also, eco-friendly products are the latest trends.

In handicraft sector, these practices can be incorporated right from the procuring of raw materials to the processes involved and to the end product.

Artisans can take following measures to adopt an ecofriendly approach in their work:

Natural dyes over chemical dyes

Chemical dyes should be replaced with natural ones to the extent possible. This is required as chemical dyes are harmful and pose health hazards. Frequently used artificial and chemical dyes from the ecological point of view are harmful for people and the environment as they contains elements like acids and various combinations of manganese with iron, aluminium, copper, chromium and the like and therefore harmful to use. These are harmful for the people working there, for the environment, for flora and soil. Because some parts of these elements together with the steam of dyeing products go to the air of dyeing houses; these get inhaled & enter human body, some parts of them melt in the water of the substance, along with the polluted waters are absorbed by the underground waters, soil and to the surrounding area. As a result, those substances according to the elements’ cycle which goes like soil-plants-animal-human mingle with this cycling chain and when used regularly these substances are accumulated in the underground waters, air and soil and make a negative effect on the workers health and the ecology of the surrounding area.

Natural dyes are not only beneficial for the environment but are economic too. Working with natural dyes is safe for all.

Make recycled products

Recyclable or biodegradable products degrade easily over short periods of time and therefore do not create any clutter and are eco-friendly too. Artisans should try to make such products. Use natural raw materials instead of synthetic ones. Click here to see some examples of recycled products

Preserve nature

Wood carving artisans should not cut trees for getting wood. They should go for wood from dry wood logs, normally sold by Govt. forest departments. Similarly, artisans dealing in leather & bone products should source leather & bone from dead animals only and not kill them for this purpose.

Effluent disposal

The effluents resulting from processes employed in the production process should be properly disposed off. The area where the disposal is taking place should not be in the vicinity of human community. Also the effluent waste should be tested for containing life threatening chemicals. Artisans can contact the local municipal corporation for getting details in this regard.

Look for eco-friendly & natural options for raw materials, processes, products

Eco-friendly options should be looked for and adopted in each part of the process be it raw materials, manufacturing processes, packaging of the product etc.

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