How an environmentalist is redefining our Bare Necessities 

November 12th , 2018 | Sahar Mansoor

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Love for nature and quest for knowing more about environment

I think I have subconsciously been an environmentalist since I was a little girl; my love for nature was fostered spending weekends in cubbon park with my dad and two big sisters, climbing trees and mostly falling off of them. My dad absolutely loved nature, he never missed his morning walk in cubbon park and holidays for our family meant road trips, stopping on the way to jump into waterfalls, swimming in the beach, early mornings walks, soaking in sunsets and sunrises. Having lost my Dad when I was very little, being in nature continued to be one way of remembering him.

In my 3rd year of college in 2012, I watched a video of Bea Johnson in Professor Chris Chapples’s World Religions and Ecology class. I remember being blown away by the Bea and her family’s lifestyle; but I also remember thinking to myself, she can afford to shop at Whole Foodsor she must have a lot of free time to make her own products. I also remember conclusively dismissing I couldn’t live a zero waste lifestyle while working 3 jobs, maintaining my grades for my scholarship, having a fun social life and exploring my new city I came to call home. 

I remember walking into my Dean’s office and telling Dean Zaleeza, You don’t have the major I wantand he smiled and said, okay grab a chair, lets create one! I added environmental planning as my second major and took some amazing classes in environmental engineering, environmental ethics and policy!

Gratitude of Gift Bundle

Let’s talk trash by breaking our web of convenience

I started to think more about our trash problem. The only time we think about trash is when we see or smell it stinking up our neighborhood. The truth is that our trash problem is much worse than that for our environment and our health.

 

We are subjects of this urbanization-globalization era and we are so caught up in this web of convenience that we don’t think about a plastic water bottle that we use for 5 minutes that then takes 700 years to start decomposing in the first place. Of course in the process leaching harmful chemicals into our soil and water, the same soil you are consuming your fresh veggies from! But really where is the plastic you threw out actually going? What tiny piece of plastic is actually in the sushi you are eating for dinner tonight?

 

One community I was working with was this community from West Bengal, who were waste pickers. I spent time shadowing them and what I was most confronted by was the social justice issues of our waste problem. Every day thousands of waster pickers segregate broken glass, sanitary napkins and needles all with their bare hands.  

 

When I first faced the facts, I couldnt believe how something as innocuous as our garbage could be negatively connected to so many of my personal and political concerns. I wanted to stop being part of the problem. I had to address my own trash problem first. My solution – a lifestyle that best reflects the values I cared about.

Dental Kit

Our old traditions and roots are waste solution

My obvious resources when I started off was Bea and Lauren’s blog but importantly were conversations with my grandma asking her what she did before shampoo started being sold  in a plastic bottle? A lot of our Indian traditions are actually rooted in ecological practices or what we now can call “zero waste practices”. Our stainless steel indian “tiffin” is another example of an Indian tradition that is celebrated by the zero waste movement.

I started taking my first few steps in April 2015.My first few steps are summarized below and my friend made this awesome illustration to go with it (illustration by Noorain Ahmed). The transition was incrementally, for instance when I ran out of soap instead of buying at store, I would experiment and eventually learned how to make my own. However, I am still not living completely zero waste life  and I doubt I ever will be. It is good to know your boundaries.

Home Cleaning Kit

If we only stick to our Bare Necessities

In my zero-waste journey, I realized we lived in a world with LANDFILL destined products.

Toothbrushes for instance, 4.7 billion of them land in the landfill every year, and take 200-700 years to start decomposing. So every toothbrush you and I have ever produced is sitting on our planet somewhere!

In response to this problem, I wanted to create a company that mirrored the values of zero waste, ethical consumption and sustainability. I wanted to make it easy and accessible for other people looking to consume more mindfully and to encourage others to produce less waste. And thus, Bare Necessities was born. 

 

At Bare Necessities, It’s not just about selling products. It’s about encouraging an earth friendly lifestyle. In the larger sense, BN seeks to change the narrative on waste in India. In the future, Bare Necessities seeks to become an interdisciplinary hub, a home for product designers to design products with a cradle to cradle philosophy, a place for policy analysts to work with local government on policy recommendations to manage our waste better, to reduce our waste. A place for behavior economics, ecologists, researchers and consumers alike to build the ecosystem towards a circular economy.

Illustration by Noorain Ahmed

The author of the story is Founder of Bare Necessities and more information about them can be found @  https://barenecessities.in/

InwasteR is only a platform to share WaStory and the views and experience are purely of the author.

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