3 startups that are bringing people closer to nature

20th Jul 2017
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Everything is related. The tree is related to the rain. The rain is related to our food. Our food is related to our health. Our health is related to our wealth. Therefore, when we destroy nature in the name of development and progress, are we destroying our health and wealth? According to Aristotelian logic, we are.

The trouble here is, while we are able to know (more often than not) easily if we are feeling good physically or not – that is, if we are healthy enough – we are seldom sure if we are wealthy enough. The reason for this trouble is, perhaps, our straying away from the ancient, singular, and objective logic traced out by Aristotle, and into the trap of the clinical, pseudo-mathematical, and subjective logic of the modern world.

Image: Shutterstock

Image: Shutterstock

The machinations of economy have for long been brutal to the planet. As the future seems bleak in this respect, businesses are facing the roadblock their predecessors thoughtlessly put in their way. Can today's businesses get past this hurdle to make peace between humanity and the planet which it inhabits? Here are three businesses trying to do just that:

Hike and Heal – Backpackers' lodge

On the one hand, our natural resources are going down, on the other, the stress of the corporate world is going up. This situation seems to have brought back the desire for nature and a natural way of living (as much as possible) in people. More and more people are choosing destinations that are not the cathedrals in Europe or the Disney world. They are going for the outdoors, the forests, and the mountains. Trekking, wildlife photography, and knowledge of the fauna and flora of the wild are catching up as mainstream hobbies. Mindful of these people, former business executive Akash Chopra runs a backpacker's lodge in the hills of Kodaikanal.

Akash (31) worked as a corporate banker in the Emirates before starting Hike and Heal – his backpackers' lodge. Nestled in the hills surrounding the Poombarai village, which is about 25 kilometers from the Kodaikanal Lake area, the lodge is a rustic cluster of cottages with a breathtaking view. The place brings a new kind of sophistication to budget travel/vacations. If you’re looking for more than a concrete room, you can pitch a tent (bring your own) in the great outdoors. Akash is also a qualified trekking expert. He organises and leads short, long, overnight (one night) treks for his clients. Prices of these treks vary according to their duration. Akash hopes to make people aware of the damage that we have caused to the ecosystem. He educates his guests on the local ecosystem and gets them to plant trees (especially Shola saplings – trees indigenous to Kodaikanal's ecosystem) during their stay. Like little drops of water that make the mighty ocean, Akash understands that he can grow a forest one sapling at a time.

EcoSave

One of the biggest enemies that threatens (and adversely affects) the health of our planet is plastic. While many shops and supermarkets across the country have stopped giving plastic bags to their customers, everything from toothpaste to cooking oil to pulses to milk to soap to shampoo to medicines to water, comes in packaging made of plastic. Carrying a cloth bag to the market is simply not enough to save the planet. The big manufacturers need to look at ways to replace plastic in packaging. And EcoSave is here to help them. EcoSave is the brainchild of Shilpa Pawar, a former basketball player. Her experiences in the discipline of sports inspired in her a never-give-up attitude. And this is the attitude Shilpa brings to fight for our ailing planet.

EcoSave supplies 100 percent biodegradable environment-friendly products such as cotton cloth bags, plates, bowls, containers, trays, spoons, forks, knives, compartment partition plates made out of natural fiber, areca nut leaves, sugarcane bagasse and corn starch or PLA with no chemical additives, anti-bacterial, anti-odour, and toxic-free which make perfect alternative for plastics. Most products are compostable in 60 to 90 days. EcoSave products aim at reducing the garbage produced by the use of plastic. Shilpa's team of eco-consultants work with clients to understand and render expert advice in reducing hazardous waste by providing reusable, bio-degradable tableware products, and eco-friendly packaging solutions.

Sage Organics

We are what we eat. But what we eat is injected with a lot of toxic chemicals. Farmers challenged by the outcome of the ill-treatment of the planet are forced to use pesticides to safeguard the crops and secure a profitable yield. Food that was once considered to be medicine by our wise ancestors has turned into poison that’s killing us slowly with each morsel. To put an end to this massacre is the objective of Sage Organics. Their motto is to provide a healthy lifestyle that's good not just for people but also the environment.

Sage Organics focuses on sustainable farming and has established many best practice techniques that can be emulated by all the people in the space of sustainable farming.

The 20-acre Sage farm located in Shankarpally, Telangana is an ecosystem that has rich soil and high biodiversity. Extensive water harvesting works have been carried out to increase the ground water percolation and also increase of soil moisture. The plant systems are supported by animal systems in a symbiotic way. The farm is proud of the native ongole cattle and natural farm chicken reared and cared for here.

Sage Organics has a dedicated customer base that pre-orders their weekly requirement of vegetables, fruits, and homemade organic food products like bread, salsa, sauces, pasta, paneer, etc. All the orders are packed in hygienic conditions and are either delivered or kept ready for pickup as per the choice of the customer. The team also runs a specialty organic restaurant called Sage Cafe where they serve healthy and delicious four-course organic meals on a pre-booking basis.

While it is heartening to see these businesses wake up to today's reality, educate their patrons, and save nature, governmental policies on the environment, inflation, and the rigid framework of the economic system, and many other factors remain a challenge for these Samaritans to overcome in order to keep on doing their good work.

Businesses needn't be Nature's enemy. The examples above prove that. The more conscious we become about the planet and our relationship with it, the better chance we have for a safe and bright future.

Also read: How a village in Himachal Pradesh is taking art from the gallery to nature

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