Sustainable, South Asian-Owned Businesses
October 22, 2021 • 6 min read
It’s been a year of highlighting ways in which we can be more inclusive, impactful, and supportive of marginalized, BIPOC communities, and with Diwali around the corner, it felt like the best time to feature sustainable, South Asian-owned businesses who are making waves in the world of conscious consuming.
Donating to charities, lending support in a physical way, and being an advocate are all impactful ways in which we can create better, safer and kinder communities. Buying from South Asian-owned businesses is an incredibly easy way to help, one that creates a large ripple of goodness.
When we buy from BIPOC-owned businesses, it helps create more opportunities for financial stability, something that isn’t always fairly proportioned. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have long been regarded as wealth builders who help upkeep our local economies. Buying from BIPOC-owned businesses allows marginalized communities to create meaningful savings, invest in property and the local economy, and create generational wealth.
Conversations around cultural appropriation are rising, paralleling the injustices marginalized communities are facing. This is important to keep in mind as we navigate our habits, buying patterns, and interactions with trends. We can’t cherry pick the culture we want to partake in, reaping only the benefits of the current wellness or fashion fad while ignoring the very real biases that are faced by the same cultures that bring us these gifts. This kind of behaviour is harmful, hurtful, and only serves to perpetuate prejudices and inequality.
A good practice to keep in mind when determining whether a brand is actually sustainable, ethical, and conscious of their re-selling of traditional cultural ideas, is to see how they acknowledge (if at all) the roots of the product, instead of just making a profit off of it.
Do they specifically give credit to the culture that the product they’re selling comes from?
Do they provide a history of the tool and how it was originally used before becoming trendy in the West?
Are they uplifting and recognizing the deep cultural importance it holds, or are they attempting to take ownership of it?
Do they donate a percentage of earnings from this product they didn’t invent back into the community it comes from?
If you’re considering purchasing an item or service that you know (or suspect) comes from South Asian origins, try buying from a brand that is actually South Asian-owned, or from one that considers the product’s origins and helps uplift the community. Things to consider are spices, adaptogens like ashwagandha, turmeric, Ayurvedic medicinal practices, yoga, henna, incense, chai, ghee, etc.
Also, beware of how you’re interacting with cultural norms and traditions. For example, yoga in the west has become far removed from its eastern origins, with many people not even realizing that it’s an ancient Indian practice (thanks Lululemon). Tanks and tees that say things like “Namaslay all day” or “Namaste bitches” might sound funny, but in reality, are very disrespectful to the deep meaning behind the word “Namaste”. Most people associate this word with yoga as it is often said in class, but the real meaning behind it is “the soul in me recognizes the soul in you”, signifying that we are so much more than our human forms. “Namaste” is a very common greeting in India, and it is said to show respect for the other, and to honour their presence. Appropriating the term into meaningless yoga wear is incredibly frustrating for South Asian and Hindu communities to see, and is just another way in which our collective engages in practices on a surface level, instead of going in deeply and understanding the significance and importance of the wellness trends they’re participating in.
Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of sustainable, South Asian-owned businesses and organizations to support. There are so many others out there, and I will continue to update this list as I hear of them!
You might also like: Sustainable, Asian-Owned Businesses
Beauty & Skin
Fashion & Accessories
Food & Drink
This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a commission if you decide to buy something (at no extra cost to you!). Thank you so much for making a purchase through these links and supporting this website!
Save this post for later on Pinterest