I'm Anu. I’m a mother. I'm a climate realist.
In the past decade, I've worked on several global communications campaigns, with a focus on raising awareness on environmental issues and their impact on business and marginalized communities.
I was one of an army of climate advocates who played a role in achieving the Paris Climate Agreement. The signing of that document was a defining moment for the world, and my career. However, a few months later in 2016, President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement.
Overcome with a feeling of deep disappointment, anger and disbelief, I wondered:
If only we could instill empathy in people toward our planet, perhaps we wouldn’t be where we are? What if we taught our children, future leaders, that they are part of a global community of people? What if we could raise an army of planet champions?
As grandiose as it sounded at that moment, my conviction propelled me toward taking baby steps. I started at home. With one child. My own - Arjun.
It’s time to have ‘the talk’
The life and surroundings that Arjun knew were the tree-and-flower-filled playgrounds of Central Park. To broach the topic on what was happening to our world in reality, was daunting. How could I explain this to a child? How would he react?
I also wasn’t sure how to begin such a conversation. After all, we weren’t the kind of family to say, ‘tonight, our dinnertime topic of discussion is going to be refugee issues or reproductive health rights.’ Yet finding a way to spark a talk on climate change with him seemed not just necessary, but urgent.
Finding the catalyst
One morning, during our daily chatty breakfasts, he asked me out of the blue, ‘Mama, I know you work on climate change. But what do you really do?!’
In effect he handed me the prompt that would fuel many, many breakfast conversations to come. We talked about plastics in the ocean, the importance of forests and indigenous tribes, and the dangerous impact of the poisonous gases that cars (and cows) emit. While the topics seemed challenging, I kept things simple, discussing facts in a fun but meaningful way. Little did I know that that was all that was needed to get a little mind going wild with imagination and possibilities.
A few weeks later, at a family get-together, all the kids there were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. Arjun proudly announced that he wanted to find a way to take the dirt out of the air so people and animals can breathe easier. His response made everyone proud!... And just like that, my little climate change warrior had propelled me to think of a wider a social enterprise for all our children.
Kat•tu•ma•rum: my way forward
It was when my life as a mother of a young child and a passionate environmental campaigner collided that the idea for a social enterprise was born. I headed down a new road, which would create a new and enjoyable approach toward educating children and, at the same time, give those in need, a real opportunity for change.
Kat·tu·ma·rum is an environmentally and socially-conscious brand of kids tees designed to tell stories about climate change. Made in communities impacted by climate change.
Creating with purpose
‘Why tees?’ you may ask. I am always looking for creative ways to increase the ‘stickiness’ of important messages. Using an everyday object – that all kids love and use – instantly piques curiosity in an unusual and inspiring way. I also wanted kids to have the opportunity to share their passions, as often as possible, with as little effort as possible. What better way for them to ‘show and tell’ their big hearts than on their little chests?
Kat·tu·ma·rum tees (Kat·Ts) are thoughtfully designed with fun illustrations that act as catalysts to kickstart a fun ‘eco-learning experience.’ Between parents and kids, and kids and their friends.
Each Kat·T comes with an illustrated conversation guide for parents and children to debate and discover environmental issues, together. Over dinner, at the park, while snuggling before bedtime or over breakfast. The guide, Kat·T and your time is all you need to engage in a shared - and possibly transformative - experience! My hope is that, just like me, you too will be amazed at the questions sparked in your curious little ones, and be inspired by their simple yet magical minds.
It was equally important that every Kat·tu·ma·rum tee was mindfully crafted to create value for all, throughout the supply chain.
The organic cotton used to make our Kat-tees are sustainably sourced from farming communities in the regions of Maharashtra, Telangana and Odisha in India. Poor soil health, unforeseen changes in climatic conditions and failed crops have led to thousands of farmer suicides. By paying a premium for the cotton and supporting regenerative farming practices, each Kat-tee gives these farmers the fighting chance to revive their lands and build a more resilient future for their children and families.
As for the tees themselves, they check all the boxes. Certified organic cotton. Breathable. GOTS certified. Sewn in certified Fair Trade factories, with no child labor. While I have tried to adhere to the highest ethical standards available today, I do think there is scope to raise the bar for cleaner, more planet-friendly clothing.
Conversations to actions
Two years since conceiving Kat·tu·ma·rum, my belief in children as powerful agents of change, reason and hope has never been stronger. My informal ‘talk’ with Arjun has resulted in unexpected consequences and several delightful moments.
He is now curious about how things are made and how they can be upcycled. He is mindful of his actions and how they affect our environment. At the grocery store, a while ago Arjun asked, ‘Why are we using a plastic bag to put the vegetables in? A sea turtle might eat it if it goes into the ocean.’ As parents, it’s a proud moment when our children hold us to a higher standard and ensure that we indeed 'walk the talk!'