Sri Lanka is cementing its position at the vanguard of sustainable and ethical fashion production because "it's the right thing to do, and something we wanted to do," according to Nikhil Hirdaramani, director at one of the country's leading manufacturers.

The Hirdaramani Group's 'Mihila' factory earlier this year won CarbonNeutral certification from The CarbonNeutral Company, a global provider of carbon reduction solutions - making it the first apparel plant in Asia to achieve this accolade.

But Hirdaramani explains that the company didn't partner with any international brands to transform the facility, and that it will take a longer time to see a financial return on investment compared to a traditional factory.

just-style paid a visit to the plant in Agalawatta, some 70km away from Colombo, earlier today (16 November).

The factory uses 48% less energy and 70% less water when compared to a traditional factory, and zero waste goes to landfill.

The lush site backs onto a rainforest, a space the group has worked to enhance through the addition of spaces like a butterfly garden to encourage more native fauna into the area.

The site generates some 8% of its electricity needs from solar panels, while the roof is painted white to reflect the sun and reduce cooling costs.

The privately-owned company is also very proud of its efforts to improve the community, helping local farmers to buy plants, seeds and organic fertilizer, and then buying that produce back to supply its canteen. There are some 40 farmers participating in the scheme.

There is even an organic farm on-site to help teach workers about how to grow their own food.

The company's care for its staff feeds down in intangible ways. Walking across the factory floor, which holds some 950 workers, there was a very real sense that staff were relaxed and happy - with some lingering outside ahead of the group's talent quest, which is set to take place tonight.

To that end, the company is taking what it learned from the Mihila factory and revamping two more of its traditional factories, and has plans to open another eco-factory in the middle of next year in Vavuniya, which was a front line town in the country's civil war.