Sustainable Living and Entrepreneurship
It is hard to deny the statement “change begins with you”. Several iterations of this statement have been quoted throughout the sustainability community, and quite rightly so, to mobilise a large group of people to first focus on their own habits before working to influence change among others. It is very encouraging to see new and upcoming entrepreneurs’ venturing into the areas of sustainable goods and services for the masses in a bid to make individuals realise their own potential for change. One such venture is Bare Necessities Zero Waste India. We had the great pleasure of speaking with their Head of Marketing & Sustainability Communications, Mehul Manjeshwar, about the motivation behind Bare Necessities, their vision, and secrets to sustaining such a business.
Our conversation started off with talking about the concept of sustainable living and its importance for the youth, especially in India. In today’s fast paced economically driven societies, one of the most important things that we can do as individuals is to simply slow down and take a moment to look around us. Generally, the concept of sustainability is always considered environment-centric. However, it is rather a combination of the environment, the economy, and human wellbeing working together harmoniously. The need of the hour is to look within oneself and the interactions that happen around us on human, environmental, and economic levels and make informed decisions about lifestyle choices. A young India brings with its tremendous opportunities for the youth to engage in this nexus and drive change through active participation in sustainability topics that are close to their hearts. Bare Necessities itself is a people- and Earth-centered small social enterprise in the impact space that tries to tackle sustainability issues in manufacturing, distribution, consumption, and waste, for a more innovative and socially conscious society. Their focus on empowering women and getting more youth involved at an early age to leverage their zeal for creative solutions is also quite noteworthy. They also focus on driving more consciousness into society to effect change at a very personal level which is essential for a generational evolution of thought and action. Through manufacturing of zero waste everyday products, providing educational workshops, and offering consultancy services to other businesses, they aim to be a transformative force for positive change.
Making ‘local’ a priority is so important in the effort to make sure an organisation’s value chain is kept as sustainable as possible. Having local partners and local ingredients in an organisations supply and value chains puts the focus on having a common goal and building trust and respect locally which translates to consistent scaling. The governments’ role in supporting small sustainable businesses cannot be overlooked. Governments can play a major role in giving subsidies and tax-breaks to new small-scale enterprises that will help in building a solid foundation for long term industrial stability and sustainability. Their role in policy making especially related to waste management and systemic support of clean businesses through campaigns and outreach is critical in ensuring a continued flow of sustainable solutions and innovation. Bare Necessities stressed the importance of private enterprises that are known to operate outside the jurisdiction of fluctuating governments which fills the gaps that exist in sub-standard policies and the struggles in implementation of good ones. Companies also align more with the fact that to generate revenue and increase profits, the social wellbeing of the people in their demographic is paramount and needs to be escalated for better gains, and a nature-based approach helps with exactly this.
The challenges facing social enterprises are many. Inspiring individuals to ask the right questions about their lifestyle, convincing the government of the value in sustainable solutions, educating companies about the importance of sustainable supply chains, and inspiring young entrepreneurs and companies to drive change are some of the challenges facing social enterprises like Bare Necessities regularly. Communicating among stakeholders drastically increases the potential for solution generation and innovation. Bare Necessities has been very active at the youth level with several workshops and outreach programs in schools and with the current COVID19 crisis, online webinars and workshops have been very helpful in reaching a larger audience and promoting and selling sustainable alternatives to conventional everyday use items.
We concluded our informative chat by saying that it is high time we as a society and as a people “just go for it” in terms of educating ourselves and striving for change by voicing what we believe in and of course practicing what we preach. Essentially, being part of the solutions and not the problems.