Reducing use of 5 lakh sanitary pads each year, Stone Soup is promoting eco-friendly livingHema Vaishnavi
Bengaluru-based Stone Soup stands for sustainable living; it offers a range of solutions to manage kitchen waste and the menstrual cycle in an eco-friendly way.
Did you know Bengaluru generates 150 tonnes of sanitary waste per day? Every house that throws away mixed waste tied up in plastic bags is a contributor to a ballooning man-made crisis – huge landfills that are detrimental to the environment and human health.
If waste is segregated at the base, it is easier to manage it. Composting organic waste also reduces the amount of waste being dumped in landfills, these eco-warriors feel.
In an effort to provide solutions and products that are truly eco-friendly, Malini and Smita founded Stone Soup in mid-2015.
When eco-warriors get together
It all began when a few ecologically conscious residents of Bellandur area in Bengaluru came together to take a conscious decision on how to manage waste.
As waste volunteers, we experienced that 70 percent people do want to do the right thing as long as someone else has done the thinking and work behind it. Only a small segment is eco-friendly, Malini says.
"We saw solutions and products that could handle waste but either they were not widely available or needed considerable money and time from users. That’s why only the really eco-friendly people were adopting these. We decided to make sustainable living easy,” Malini adds.
The eco-warriors of Bellandur had been pushing authorities and citizens alike. They felt the market was not providing enough “right” products and services to help people transition to sustainable living.
The Garbage Sisterhood
After debating for more than a year, in mid-2015, the duo finally decided to launch Stone Soup.
Stone Soup gets its name from an old folk story in which hungry travellers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys.
While support poured in from all environment enthusiasts, within six months, most enthusiasts turned into well-wishers, except for Malini and Smita.
“Since then, we have had a few other eco-warriors join the team; the well-wisher group has expanded to many cities,” says Malini, who started her SWM (solid waste management) journey in 2011.
She is a part of the “Garbage Sisterhood” and has been a part of 2bin1bag, Swachagraha, Green the Red, plastic ban campaigns, and now the natural cleaners campaign.
Stone Soup solutions
Stone Soup offers a range of products to live an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. From biodegradable options for everyday use products, such as menstrual hygiene products, cloth diapers, natural cleansers to cloth bags, they offer them all through various distributors.
Stonesoup Wings menstrual cups have been designed by us. We are proudly ‘Made in India’ unlike most cups in the market that are made in China and or are a copy of global brands, Smita says.
"The strength of our design has allowed us to also launch our cup in global markets; it is listed as a cup with unique design. Customer feedback and sales prove the innovative design is a huge plus,” Smita adds.
She is also one of the founding members of Bangalore Eco Team (BeT), a congregation of city-wide volunteers working on SWM initiatives. She has been instrumental in getting the plastic ban implemented in HSR Layout area of Bengaluru and has worked in many other wards to spread the movement across Bengaluru and beyond.
Stone Soup is building a network of self-help groups across India to produce the bio-enzymes. The team also provides customers with the recipe of their multipurpose Bio-Enzyme Natural Cleaners as they are easy to make at home.
“We want to make a sale but we want to show our customers the most sustainable alternative - and that is making this at home!” Malini says.
Stone Soup takes a step further in addressing waste management by providing composting solutions to all its customers.
Talking about the approach the team takes in providing solutions to new customers, Malini says, “The vast majority of our customers starts with Chutki, a kit that costs less than Rs 500 and is a simple, easy, no smell, no flies, and outsourceable-to-maids/kids composting solution. With this, folks just compost one week of their wet waste and get the hang of the process. They experience for themselves that composting is easy and we encourage them to use the harvested compost to grow vegetables.”
“Once they taste their home-grown vegetables, they are hooked; slowly, they migrate to composting their entire wet waste with our Manjhali, Badhki or Joshily kits . Some even ask neighbours to give them their wet waste as their organic terrace garden grows!”
For restaurants, Stone Soup follows a combination of anaerobic and aerobic composting as the space is small and waste is primarily cooked food. For communities, the team has recently launched Aaditi. It is a solution built keeping in mind housekeeping agony stories we have heard first hand.
A tremendous response
Stone Soup has sold more than 2,500 composting kits in the last one year and has saved more than one tonne organic waste from landfills.
Stone Soup Wings is used by more than 4,000 women and is preventing usage of approximately 5,76,000 sanitary pads per year.
Stone Soup feels that childhood is the best age to imbibe sustainable ideas into one's mindset. Stonesoup’s Eco-ol school programme does sessions in schools now, teaching the kids with Trashonomics, a book written by Archana Kashyap and Claire Rao, members of the SWM Round Table, Bengaluru.
The book teaches kids the right way to look at waste and is letting Stone Soup introduce children through hands-on activities like composting.
Stone Soup is currently embarking on an investor quest to fund its plan to spread its wings to other cities. The aim is to increase the product portfolio as the founding team believes there are still opportunities lying in dustbins and waiting to be found.
We will stop when dustbins are empty in every house. Hence to reach every house, we also have expansion plans.
"Our menstrual cups are just making an entry in Health and Glow. We want to be present in every large retail store in the country. Where there is a sanitary pad, our cup should be jostling for space next to it. Where there is a dustbin, our composter should be pushing it off the shelves,” Malini says.