By Vina Medenilla
Though cheap and affordable, fast fashion comes with environmental costs that contribute to the rising problem of waste worldwide. This prompted AraPilak, a Palawan-based shop, to offer not only zero-waste products, but to also release a clothing line that aims to minimize the carbon footprint through repurposing materials such as katsa or flour sacks.
AraPilak is derived from Cuyonon (native Palawan language) words, “ara” and “pilak”, which means walang tapon or no waste.
Jude Rivera, 29, founder of AraPilak, launched the brand in 2018 with the ambition to promote and save the environment for her family and for the planet.
Rivera says, “Our vision is to help develop the right mindset about caring for Mother Earth by lessening our carbon footprint through sustainable practices. We sell low-waste and sustainable products from bamboo straws, collapsible tumblers to menstrual cups.”
AraPilak recently introduced a collection of eco-friendly clothes handcrafted using katsa or flour sacks. With the goal to amplify the importance of sustainability, they named the collection Ba’law which means awareness in Cuyonon language.
The concept of the clothing line was rooted in the old Filipino habit of using katsa in everyday life. Rivera stressed, “In fact, Ba’law brought to mind childhood memories, such as the use of katsa as blankets, skirts, bibs, blouses, curtains, handkerchief, and cloth diapers.”
Rivera, a fan of vintage items, says that the clothes were inspired by the old designs and custom, but with a modern twist.
With the ease of obtaining what we need in stores nowadays, AraPilak created the clothing line as an attempt to promote sustainability and to lessen waste by saving and reusing whatever was on hand, especially amid a pandemic. “With Ba’law Clothing, we would like to inspire people to take a look at the things they already have and ask themselves whether those things could still be used or repurposed. This way, we could practice sustainability in our own little way,” said Rivera.
Apart from clothing, AraPilak also offers items like handmade, repurposed coconut planters that they sell for P200.
Artisans behind the products
The challenge of modern living has urged the brand to create this eco-conscious collection. “Today, we have three groups of farmers and makers where we source our items from,” Rivera added.
Aside from the goal to make zero-waste items available to everyone, it also aims to provide livelihood, particularly to the Palaweños. Rivera shares, “One of my dressmakers has been my partner in business since 2019. We started with using linen products, followed by pouches for our bamboo straws and cutleries.” The home-based seamstress was recommended by her friend. Other than generating income amid the crisis, the weaver also gets to enhance her skills while pursuing her passion in crafting.
Besides katsa, the enterprise also makes clothes using linen that is made from the fibers of flax plants. As per Rivera, linen is not only ideal for the country’s weather, but it is also recyclable and highly biodegradable, especially when unprocessed.
View this post on Instagram
The fast fashion industry has a disastrous impact on the environment. In fact, it is the second largest polluter in the world. That’s why we come into the idea of sustainable clothing. Linen is the most eco friendly fabric, and we also have repurposed flour sack fabrics. Our linen short is available in small-meduim fit—yellow only 💛 Our flour sack crop top fits small-medium Message us for inquiries! ✨
Rivera is now working on her next project and plans to connect to barangay officials soon. Her project involves providing livelihood to single mothers who wish to earn income by doing home-based work. She says, “The necessary skills will be taught through a workshop or a series of workshops.”
Photos courtesy of AraPilak.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January to February 2021 issue.