How these women entrepreneurs are leading the 'go-green' movement
It’s easy for many of us to use and throw waste, including plastic, paper, glass, and clothing, according to our convenience, without a second thought. But with the planet bearing the brunt of our habits and attitude, we can no longer be careless about the products we use and the way we dispose of them.
From decor made from upcycled trash, to eco-friendly sanitary napkins, composting and more, these women entrepreneurs are encouraging people to lead environmentally conscious lives, through small changes.
Shailaja Rangarajan, Jessamijn Miedema and Kathy Walkling, Poonam Bir Kasturi
Shailaja Rangarajan, Rimagined
Founded in 2016 by Shailaja Rangarajan, Bengaluru-based Rimagined upcycles waste like unused fabric, tetra packs, broken glass, tyres, cement sacks, and wood scraps, to make clothes, shoes, accessories, decor, furniture and much more.
The process of upcycling at Rimagined involves sourcing waste, sifting and cleaning the material to become usable as raw material, product design, product creation, quality check, and finally, marketing. The products are created in centres across Bengaluru and Kolkata, and primarily use material that is locally available, since transportation creates more waste.
The brand also supports women who work in the unorganised sector by ensuring they earn a dignified livelihood through upcycling. By buying products from Rimagined - which are available on its website - Shailaja believes consumers are being productive in two ways - keeping waste from ending up in a landfill, as well as supporting women who create these products.
Jessamijn Miedema and Kathy Walkling, Eco Femme
Founded in 2010 by Jessamijn Miedema and Kathy Walkling, Eco Femme produces washable cloth pads, an alternative to regular plastic-based pads which take several years to decompose.
Based in Auroville, a hub for sustainable living, Eco Femme's pads are made by women from economically weaker backgrounds, who are part of the Auroville Village Action Group (AVAG)'s self-help groups.
The co-founders decided to launch Eco Femme after conducting research among women in rural communities, and understanding their challenges with menstruation. They learned about the cost of buying disposable pads, and the waste buildup after they were thrown. They also realised that many struggled with allergic reactions to the materials used in these pads.
Eco Femme products are available on its website, as well as other platforms like Amazon. In addition to cloth pads, the company also offers menstrual cups.
Amrita Vaswani, BumChum
Amrita Vaswani with her child
Founded by mompreneur Amrita Vaswani, Bengaluru-based BumChum offers eco-friendly, chemical-free baby products like muslin cloth nappies, hybrid diapers, and clothing.
Amrita first launched BumChum in 2013 to sell cloth diapers, but soon realised that new mothers found it difficult to keep washing, airing, and soaking cloth diapers. So, after conducting research, she launched a range of hybrid diapers in 2017, which use disposable inserts, and are biodegradable.
Amrita also runs a Mompreneur programme which helps mothers buy the products at a discount and make money reselling them among their networks.
The BumChum product line includes hybrid cloth diaper covers, disposable bamboo inserts, silicone diaper fasteners, organic newborn baby nappies, and accessories like steel sippers. The products are available on its website and ecommerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, and FirstCry.
Rhea Singhal, Ecoware
Founded in 2009 by Rhea Singhal, Delhi-based Ecoware manufactures eco-friendly food packaging and tableware products, like bowls, plates, cups, boxes, and trays.
Ecoware's products are created from plant biomass, and are strong and water resistant. According to Rhea, the products give people the chance to eat safely and live responsibly.
The plant biomass pulp is produced from plant residue and is refined through natural processes. Rhea says that Ecoware's products are fully biodegradable and compostable, and are certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Some of the ways Rhea has spread awareness about eco-friendly products has been by working with schools and cancer support groups to educate people about the risks of using plastic and Styrofoam.
Ecoware's products are available on its website and portals like Amazon.
Poonam Bir Kasturi, Daily Dump
Founded by Poonam Bir Kasturi in 2006, Bengaluru-based Daily Dump offers products for waste management in homes, communities, offices and public spaces. It manufactures a range of segregation products, composters, informational books and more, to encourage responsible waste management.
Daily Dump promotes turning food and plant waste into compost at home, to help keep large amounts of garbage off the streets and landfills. The compost can then be used as fertilisers for plants anywhere.
Poonam with some of the composters
Daily Dump also sources its earthen composters from local potters, and supports their livelihoods. The products are available on its website, and through its network of resellers across the country.
(Edited by Rekha Balakrishnan)