More women entrepreneurs lead the way for green and eco-friendly lifestyle

From all compostable fashion apparels to eco-friendly bags named after extinct animals, these women-led startups are making it easy for people to make the switch to a more eco-friendly lifestyle.
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Going green and opting for a sustainable lifestyle has emerged as a positive trend to keep climate change in check. In India, consumers largely seem more inclined towards businesses and products that are labelled as eco-friendly and sustainable.

However, more needs to be done as the current pace of tackling climate change is deemed “unthinkable” and leading to “road to hell” by senior members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

To give this movement a much-needed impetus, these four women-led startups are leading the way in promoting a more conscious lifestyle by replacing a few daily use products with more eco-friendly options.

(From L to R clockwise) Priyanka Mandal, cofounder of Clan Earth; Hitesha Deshpande, Co-founder of PECKD; Anika Parashar and Roopam Gupta, Co-founders of The Woman Company; Akshya Shree, Founder of Silpakarman

PECKD

Hitesha Deshpande and Himanshu Kulhari constantly wondered how one could be at peace donning clothes that ultimately would cost heavy damage to marine life and pollute fresh water when they land up in water bodies as wastes.

To counter this, the duo founded a fully compostable fashion label called PECKD. Its raw materials comprise of natural fabrics made from vegetable and tree pulp, and fruits and flowers which help its entire product range, from buttons to threads to decompose within months when buried in soil.

The entrepreneurs have consciously avoided use of chemical dye to prevent contamination of groundwater and soil. The bootstrapped startup also faces difficulty with sourcing the right materials and with the complex stitching process as regular machine needles do not work with the compostable thread. 

After two years of research, it launched its maiden collections, Delta and Dawn, in October 2019.

Although the duo initially planned on creating a clothing line and send the proceeds of the same to an animal sanctuary, learning about the horrors of fabric and the harm it causes animals and to their ecosystem, prompted them to repurpose the label to create clothing that would not destroy the environment.

The Woman’s Company

Anika Parashar’s concerns about using healthy and correct products for her daughter when she hit puberty became the genesis for New Delhi-based The Woman’s Company. 

Launched in March 2020 with Roopam Gupta as co-founder, the startup offers eco-friendly intimate hygiene products including sanitary pads, panty liners, tampons, menstrual cups, bamboo razor, and pee stick – which is a urination device that helps women to stand and pee.

Priced between Rs 50 and Rs 800, it ensures all aspects of the products, including packaging, is biodegradable and eco-friendly. The founders also host awareness sessions on topics like menstrual health and hygiene.

While Roopam has worked in brand and corporate communication at Marks & Spencer and Bata India, Anika was associated with RiverRock Ventures as CEO prior to starting up.

Clan Earth

Entrepreneurs Priyanka Mandal and Broteen Biswas started Clan Earth as a creative way to tackle climate change and uplift financially vulnerable people in Kolkata.

Commercially launched in January 2020, the startup offers a wide range of eco-friendly backpacks, wallets, and pouches made from water-resistant cotton canvas. Named after animal species that are extinct or at the risk of being endangered, the startup educates customers about the species through a letter. 

Priced between Rs 100 and Rs 4,000, Clan Earth offers lifestyle products like bamboo toothbrushes and coconut shell candles on its website, and through ecommerce platform Amazon. 

More importantly, it plants five trees for sale of every product through partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects, and has planted more than 1500 trees so far. Bootstrapped for now, it is looking to experiment with various sustainable fabrics to increase product offering.

Silpakarman

Being a documentary filmmaker’s daughter meant frequent travelling, and the experience sowed Akshya Shree’s love for handicrafts and tribal folklore. This fascination prompted her to start a for-profit social venture, Silpakarman in 2016. 

With two workshops in Tripura, the startup works with artisan clusters from rural India, and uses indigenous fibres like bamboo to make contemporary products including kitchen utility, furniture, wall hangings, lamps, and decor items. 

With 60 percent of sales driven by European and South African markets, they are sold through export exhibitions, B2B platforms like IndiaMart and Alibaba. It is also featured on Amazon as part of its Saheli programme.

Akshya, who holds a Bachelor’s in Business Economics, pursued a short course in Export Management from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi. Started with an initial investment of Rs 15 lakh, the startup is also incubated at Amity Innovation Incubator.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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