Chaitali Das: Indian Jute Revivalist Winning Hearts Across Globe

Chaitali Das

We enjoy stories that entertain, enchant, mesmerize, inspire, and move us to the core. This is an incredibly illuminating story of a Woman Social Reformer who has shown everyone a very noble way of solving global issues of the climate crisis by targeting one of the most pressing concerns we are facing – plastic pollution and contamination of our lands, water, and forests due to extensive use of plastic products.

The severity of plastic pollution has increased to such an extent that according to United Nations Environment Programme study, approximately Seven billion of the Nine-Point-Two billion tonnes of plastic produced in 67 years from 1950 to 2017 has ended up in dumping grounds, water bodies like rivers, lakes, and oceans, forests, or landfills, thus, becoming plastic waste.

Grasping the urgency of the critical issue and taking up the challenge of diverting society from using plastic products to an eco-friendly and sustainable material, Chaitali Das became the Internationally acclaimed Jute Revivalist and Social Entrepreneur by accomplishing the prestigious Guinness World Record for the world’s largest jute bag – under Jute Story – Beyond Bars. A revolutionary eco-friendly initiative was taken behind the tall walls of confinement, Jute Story has initiated a global campaign,

‘Jute for Climate Action 

To reach out with diversified jute products such as fashion statements, packaging, accessories, stationery, home decor, and utility sectors.

The innovative and trendy products created under this label have infused a new life and vibrancy in the way Jute is perceived. It has not only aided the conservation of the environment but also promoted Jute as a sustainable and fashionable material, creating responsible livelihoods and eco-conscious consumption trends.

An ordinary woman engaged in philanthropy and humanitarian service took up as her mission to revive Jute to a trendy, fashionable eco-friendly lifestyle space on the global stage through Chaitali’s relentless work and various projects.

Today, as the Global Chairperson and Managing Trustee of Rakshak Foundation and Founder, Chairperson, and Managing Director of Route2Jute Pvt Ltd, Chaitali has consistently advocated and promoted equitable, Gender-focused and just Climate Action measures through the Revival and Reformation of Jute.

Recently, Chaitali Das was featured on the India Corporate Governance & Sustainability Vision Summit 2023’s speakers’ panel, besides distinguished guests from BPCL, Infosys, Birla Corp, Hindalco, and TNPL at the Le Meridien, New Delhi, organized by ICC. In the event, Chaitali said:

It’s high time to implement best practicesreimagine possibilitiesunleash expression and script the story of a cleaner, greener planet. Across India, people, communities, and businesses are consciously trying to achieve net zero and contribute to the planet and a better tomorrow, focusing on ESG parameters such as climate stewardship, circular economy, green supply chain, employee and social welfare, workforce health and safety.”

An Exceptional Saga 

In this regard, her Jute Story’s journey was challenging and extraordinary to revive the Jute of India, which is considered a base material used mainly for carrying agricultural products alongside transforming Convicts into Artisans and their social inclusion. As a speaker, she propagated the story of reformation by engaging prison inmates to make jute artefacts and diversified jute products in various national and international forums. She is continuously propagating and popularising Jute through innumerable projects, events, and campaigns, creating massive outreach which slowly inculcated adaptability to the use of Jute in the process, increasing the demand in India and overseas and social inclusion for released prisoners beyond stigma and discrimination.

Breaking the Back of Barriers

Chaitali’s journey was challenging; her close ones and peers vehemently opposed it. She is also faced with the challenge of inadequate financial resources. She went ahead with her mission with a firm resolve. She faced controversies and social isolation in her circles, ridiculing her and was looked down upon for working with people carrying the tag of Convict. She faced discouragement when she decided to work on reviving Jute, as it constituted a dying industry and a very base material to work hence not worth it. She grew up in a family of legal practitioners.

As a child, Chaitali had visited her father, who was a Public Prosecutor in Alipore Police Court; a sight caught her attention; she saw some people getting off the police van handcuffed, with a thick rope around their waists, their kin and close ones trying to reach them and police officers driving them away. The humiliation that labelled the undertrials and the agony of their families, the unavoidable lifelong stigma they carry when they return to the family and mainstream after serving the tenure post-release disturbed her.

Rekindling Optimism

Her endeavour slowly invoked hope and confidence in the prison inmates who carried the label of criminal and outcasted by society; her designer product lines and her team of dedicated Artisans contributed to catapulting Jute into the fashion and lifestyle space Internationally.

Approx. Five thousand prison inmates were trained in skill and wellness programs under her leadership in the correctional home. Many of them have started their own enterprises post-release. Many are employed and are rehabilitated at her foundation to give hands-on training to the new artisans. Her working team also included women survivors of acid attacks and domestic violence, youth from urban slums turned into a skilled workforce and micro-entrepreneurs. Thus it propelled economic empowerment to move ahead in life with dignity.

The modern diversified jute product lines produced by the inmates made their presence across the globe on various prestigious platforms across all strata of society, created maximum outreach in the country, and were set to storm the world stage with the wake-up call to prevent plastic usage.

Spreading the Cause of Sustainability 

The local harvest of Bengal made its glorious journey of progress and inclusion from behind bars to beyond bars to National and International Arena including SAARC, Sri Lanka to BIMSTEC Kolkata, BIMSTEC Mumbai, G20, from the historical Oxford book store to Eminent Designers store Toil Mumbai Toil Kolkata to Y-East sustainable store of Techno India Group. Boat store at Patuli Floating Market to Heritage Tram PAATRANI, store on the wheel to Studio Jute Story Beyond Bars at Alipore, and KIOSK at Alipore Jail Museum. It journeyed from the prestigious ramp walk alongside top designers of the Country to the International stage to Central Asia Fashion Khazakstan, presenting Indian Jute before Central Asian Fashionistas, Designers, and Entrepreneurs.

Making it to the Guinness World Record, drawing global attention by creating the largest jute bag in the world, and conveying a message to the global community to adopt Jute and make Greener, more inclusive world.

The journey was challenging; it was vehemently opposed by her close ones and peers, recalls Chaitali. “I went ahead with my mission with a firm resolve. I’ve faced controversies and social isolation in my circles and was looked down upon for working with people carrying the tag of Convict.”

The Global Fashion Disruptor

However, it was with her professional values like

  • Transparency,
  • Commitment,
  • Communication,
  • Quality, and
  • Innovative design, 

that Chaitali won over her adversaries and supporters alike.

And with these traits, she has developed USPs that highlight her brand Jute Story’s uniqueness in the industry. “My mission story is to revive eco-friendly jute and catapult it to the world stage in fashion and lifestyle space just when the world started adopting eco-fashion has been a paradigm shift to green business,” she says. And for the blue economy to address climate threats, Jute Story has shown a simple yet profound way.

Jute Story Setting Significant Benchmarks

Route2jute Private Limited is registered with ROC having the Indian Institute of Management as its shareholder; its brand is called ‘Jute Story.’ The company has its’ clientele majorly from Government Departments, prestigious Institutions, Corporates, Business Houses, Corporate Events, and Social Events. The Company has already exported consignment to North America. The company is registered with ROC, incubated and guided by Experts from the Indian Institute of Management Centre of Innovation Park; it is registered with the National Jute Board of India. Jute Corporation of India, Jute Diversified and Export Promotional Council. MSME, IEC, Export Promotion Council.

Celebrating Spring @ Jute Story Studio

With a smile, Chaitali recalls how she and her team celebrated the inception of Spring recently – the Colours Festival, at their Studio Jute Story. Chaitali shares, “Our denim and camo products developed with Jute as the base material were immensely liked and loved by our guests. So much so that, they went ahead and posed by carrying items they liked from our display shelves.”

Chaitali Das –The Crowning Jewel of Indian Jute Story

  • The Indian Express published a news report on Jute Story on 8th July 2022 and another on Chaitali Das titled ‘A Sustainable Future for Women’ on 8th March 2018.
  • Similarly, Newspapers like The Telegraph, Amar Ujala, Mint, The TOI, Literary Mirror, and India Today carried news on Chaitali Das and Jute Story.

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