I’ve had a fair amount of experience with the Nepalese and Indian handmade rug industry. India being the large handmade rug producer in the world. You can find these gorgeous designer carpets everywhere – from villas in Paris to chic apartments in New York.
In Nepal, Handmade carpets are a source of livelihood to thousands of people, most of whom are women. The industry makes up for 29% of Nepal’s GDP.
Now, to give you a context of who uses these rugs – it is the world’s top 1% to 10%. These are individuals with a net worth of $93,170 or above, or in the case of the top 1%, $871,320. Handmade Nepalese and Indian rugs retails anywhere north of $10,000.
Now let’s go to the other end of the spectrum. The community where these rugs are being made, where we have individuals making about $1400-$1500 annually. This is the minimum wage in Nepal.
Why am I talking about these incomes? Here is why –
The yarn dyeing process for these luxurious rugs, are completely unregulated, in India as well as Nepal. The dyes used are acidic, and contain chemicals, and the effluents are almost always dumped into rivers or sewage systems, unchecked. These rivers irrigate the farms of of the above mentioned communities, they bathe in these rivers, they drink from them.
So it seems as in most climate related issues, it is the richest making the mess and the poorest suffering the consequences.
What are we doing? We are making fancy things for certain humans while completely taking away the basic human rights of others? I don’t know what the solution is. You tell me!
(There will be a follow up post with potential solutions. Where there are problems, there surely is a solution!)
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