Conversing with Niyati Matta - The Eco Conscious Activist
Niyati is an eco-warrior in making, with her head and heart set in the right place. Her sense of humour is on point & so is her conscience. Unfiltered. We present you Niyati Matta.
So tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, I am a Pearl Academy graduate in Fashion Business Management. So, I spend a lot of my time decoding & analyzing the fashion industry. I am a sucker for all sorts of hand-done products & products that have a story to tell. You'd often find me falling for honest expression. I'm the person who greets random dogs on the street & talks to the flowers in her garden. When I’m not day-dreaming or drooling over other people’s travel pictures, I’m usually thinking & talking about society, culture & human behavior. I'm a serious advocate of mental health & I'm working towards being inclusive of all. I have a feisty moral compass & I believe in taking responsibility for my words & actions. As someone who loves to spend her time alone, I do believe in thriving within a community & uplifting each other towards a happier version of ourselves.
How do you associate yourself with sustainable ethical fashion?
I identify with sustainable ethical fashion on many levels. It started with my love towards the Indian textiles and crafts. As mainstream fashion never really intrigued me, most of my projects revolved around handwoven & handcrafted products. It was my graduation project that exposed me to a whole new world of unsettling facts & statistics about the impact of the current fashion industry. So, be it the mass fashion or the handcrafted products - all of them have a varying impact on the planet, the people & the other species. That was the point when I decided that I am going to devote all my time & energy into making the fashion industry as sustainable & ethical as I possibly can. Since that day, I have been endlessly working on being much more aware of the impact & continue to brainstorm about the possible solutions for it.
What is that one thing that bothers you about the fashion industry?
What bothers me the most about the current fashion industry is the idea of disposable fashion - in what the brands offer & what the consumers demand. So, for a major chunk of people, fashion is not about quality or the details or the story behind the brand & the craftsmanship. It’s merely about owning a variety of stuff, without realizing where it's coming from, what's in it, who made it & what's going to happen to it once you throw it away after a few wears. What matters to most of us is owning as many inexpensive products as we can at the lowest possible price. For someone who has a profound love for rich textiles and crafts, this is heartbreaking. The thing is, the money we save by purchasing cheaper products is being paid by workers somewhere (in terms of terribly low wages & inhumane working conditions) & the planet as a whole (in terms of air, water & land pollution & irreversible depletion of resources). We may not realize it now, but our unreasonable consumerism is what's killing us.
How do you see yourself making a difference in the world?
Well, starting with oneself is always a great first step. I think becoming what I believe in & that being reflected in my lifestyle & my work is definitely going to make a difference. I do believe in the ripple effect & so, when you see someone living in a way that's based on being considerate towards the people & the planet, it's bound to spread!
Tell us that one practice that you are really proud of?
I am really proud that I am getting into the habit of asking myself the question "Why do you want to buy this, Niyati?" before buying something. Like, I have an entire conversation with myself, just analyzing why I think I need an XYZ product. Mostly I get reasons like "'cos the advertisement tells me that I need it!" or "'cos that's the trend right now!" or "one more of this won't hurt anyone!". And these are some misguided answers. Now that I have started realizing that, I buy a lot less.
What is your go-to mantra for the everyday?
Anything I do in a day, I try to put all my heart into it. I know how it's simply impossible to be conscious of your every word and action every day but this way, you do end up doing/saying at least one thing in a day that helps you sleep better at night.
What is that one thing you would like to tell other people reading this?
Okay, I am going to overstep a little here & list down a couple of things I want people to know. So bear with me.
To anyone who’s reading this - let’s slow down a bit. Let’s be a little more conscious of what we are putting out in the world & what we are consuming. Let's just collectively decide to be kinder to each other - to people you like, to people you don't like, to other species, to the environment & definitely to ourselves. Let's not take differences as threats but as opportunities to experience more. Let's give ourselves & others enough space to become what we/they want to be, no matter how conflicting it may seem. Let's find things that are bigger than us and that matter to us, and let's care about them. And, let’s definitely laugh more often!