Biji Biji’s Participation in Making the SDGs a Reality
By: Ambika Sangaran, Gwen Voon & Supriya Sivabalan
17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to protect the planet and ensure everyone enjoys peace and prosperity by 2030. Biji Biji is motivated to play our part in the process of achieving these goals by staying true to 4 out of the 17 goals launched through what we do. 

SDG 1: No Poverty  

Biji Biji is dedicated to revolutionising the concept of Ethical Fashion into an industry norm rather than an alternative through what we do. 

Poor working conditions and lack of opportunities to marginalized groups worldwide
As of 2020, the average salary for a tailor in Malaysia is RM1,751 - estimated on 49 salaries submitted anonymously to a job search website. The industry average for tailors ranges between RM1500 - RM1700. Our work here at Biji Biji sets a new minimum wage for employees in fashion - bringing real change to the normalized unethical practices of the industry. 
In fact, Biji Biji commits to a RM2000 base as a minimum wage to our tailors! This amount, of course, increases based on the individual's experience and skill. Take it from our Master Tailor who has been with us all the way since 2015! This is a step forward to breaking the commonly accepted misconduct of underpaying workers in fashion due to the mass production and many labouring hours that go into making large quantities of garments and fashion accessories. Biji Biji, therefore, acts as a suitable platform for individuals to make a steady stream of income in a safe and fair work environment. 

Our in-house Master Tailor comfortably at work!

Provided with all necessary tools and a sanitary workspace
We enforce equality and non-discrimination on every basis - not limited to age, sex, gender, looks, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc., thus helping to contribute positive changes to the lifestyles of communities in-need. We provide a chance for anyone and everyone to participate and be a part of something big and make a change - be it a big one that impacts communities or just small improvements to their personal lives by providing adequate jobs. 

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Perfectly aligned with the first SDG of No Poverty, Biji Biji also hits the mark on providing decent work to marginalized groups, with emphasis on decent. Biji Biji prides itself on its Ethical Fashion - we aim to reverse and challenge the exploitative measures taken by major corporations around the world. It shows business owners in the fashion industry that making money while being ethical is very doable! 

Nothing but smiles when working at Biji Biji with its amazing culture at the workplace
We connect consumers of fashion products and corporate company’s purchasing department staff to the waste generated from manufacturing facilities operated by textile and apparel manufacturers. We then introduce ethical consumption to the former and ethical production to the latter. Our product pricing and commitments to fair wage connect the consumers to our employees - this highlights how each purchasing choice makes or breaks the lives of employees all over the world.

SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 

Biji Biji is all about innovation - and is actually built on the basis of innovation! We utilize upcycled materials in our products, thus providing an alternative that is both ethical and sustainable. Biji Biji takes upcycling very seriously and through experience, hard work and resilience, we have formulated efficient ways to bring about new life to these unwanted materials. With an intricate sewing process, proper machines and techniques, Biji Biji came up with a gorgeous line of products - ALL produced from these upcycled materials that are repurposed. From banner tote bags, pouches, folders  to seat belt backpacks - we have a wide range of items innovated from simple waste materials. 
This then paves the way to reduce waste from winding up in landfills and is applicable to all! - both public and businesses alike! Biji Biji creates new stakeholder relationships with what we do as we connect with stakeholders, corporations and individual consumers, who in normal circumstances would not participate in the ethical fashion industry. By adopting innovative approaches to waste management, we succeed to provide a platform for these stakeholders to contribute to the cause of sustainability, specifically through SDG 12 and 9. 

SDG 12: Sustainable Consumption and Production

In terms of efficient use of natural resources, waste management and waste reduction - Biji Biji is gradually breaking down the barrier between the producer and the consumer in the fashion industry in Malaysia. By building an ethical fashion community with our platform that allows non-fashion businesses, textile manufacturers and conventional fashion designers to partake in making SDG 12 a reality, it allows us to bring change to the way the fashion industry currently works with efficient use of natural resources, waste management, and waste reduction. 
In the efforts to encourage responsible consumption and production, Biji Biji currently takes on waste materials that comprise of tarpaulin banners, rejected seat belts, felt, and vintage kimono to make our products. Biji Biji has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian Association of Convention and Exhibition Organisers and Suppliers (MaCEOS) which allows us to receive any banners that are used at conferences organized by MaCEOS for upcycling into our adorable banner products! We have also collaborated with Japan’s Nakakoma Orimono where precious vintage kimono pieces are provided and worked into our beautiful bags. 
Even the minimalistic dust bags Biji Biji provides for every bag that’s priced over RM100 is made of deadstock fabric! Deadstock refers to materials or vintage items that were never sold - it is essentially something that is unused. Until Biji Biji decided to transform them into dust bags to protect your precious pieces. 
Taking a stand today with what we do here at Biji Biji brings great heights to the change we wish to see in the world - and you can be a part of that change too!


Sources:
Communications material. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/news/communications-material/
Setting a High Bar for Poverty in India. (2014). Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/10/world/asia/setting-a-high-bar-for-poverty-in-india.html
Poverty and Shared Prosperity. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.worldbank.org/en/publication/poverty-and-shared-prosperity

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