Wendell Rodricks, the designer who is now an activist
Kolkata:Pained to see the fragile ecosystem of the scenic Goa being damaged by illegal mining, garbage dumping and population explosion, leading fashion designer Wendell Rodricks has now turned into an environmental activist.
In his recently-released autobiography 'The Green Room', he describes how unfortunate circumstances and his unbridled love for his native state of Goa have gradually made him into a "reluctant activist".
"Never in my life had I dreamt that I would stand on a truck or a public garden and deliver fiery speeches to save Goa.
But by 2004, I was voicing my opinions loud and clear in 'Goa Today' and had made many powerful enemies. But the Goan public showered their support," writes Rodricks.
Rated as one of India's top ten designers, the 52-year-old is famous for putting the seaside Goa on the world's fashion map with his minimalistic designs.
In the book released here at the Oxford Bookstore, Rodricks who hails from the picturesque riverside village of Colvale, few kms away from Panaji, says he doesn't remember when he began to get involved with environmental issues. "Drugs and prostitution became commonplace and a workforce comprising immigrant labourers outnumbered the local populace.
The village of Colvale was cut in half by a highway in 2000. As I watched the village of 2000 Colvalkars being inhabited by more than 7000 people, I turned into a reluctant activist," he writes.
To provide ecological solutions for garbage management, composting, rainwater harvesting, sewage treatment, clean water management and to encourage pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, the ace designer even started a company called Green Goa Works in 2004.
"I was furious and frustrated at the sight of Colvale dumping site. What were the politicians doing? Couldn't they manage the garbage of 1.2 million people? Were we paying taxes so that these jokers could make fool of us?" he writes.
Protesting against illegal mining, he had last month closed down his fashion boutique in a hotel co-operated by a mining company.
As a designer he promotes eco-friendly wear and became the first Indian to present his collection at the world's largest organic fair BIOFACH earlier this year.
In his stores, he has a special collection of cotton garments, yoga mats and stoles made using 100 per cent natural dyes sourced from an NGO which works with tribals at the Goa-Maharashtra-Karnataka border.
"I love my land so much that if someone tells me to eat the soil in Colavle I will. My love for Goa is so strong that I cannot see it destroyed before my eyes," concludes Rodricks in his book.