For more than the past two decades, the majority of the 29 states and several Union Territories have tried to control and regulate the use of plastics in India. Down To Earth reported that India consumes 16.5 million tonnes of plastic yearly. According to Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016, a complete ban on plastics below 50 microns was emphasized along with the elimination of multi-layered packaging and the introduction of EPR (Extended Product Responsibility) for importers, producers, and brand owners to assure environmentally sound management of plastic products till their last breath.
A whopping 43% of the manufactured single-use plastic pollutes our drains, landfills, and the ocean. India produces 25,000 tonnes of plastic waste per day. Although the humongous industries have a big role to play in plastic pollution globally, doing our bit at our homes to protect the environment from toxic waste is equally important. Here are the five Indian startups, led by boss women, that offer eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to plastic.
Bare Necessities: zero-waste, earth-friendly living
Sahar Mansoor founded the Bengaluru-based Bare Necessities in 2016. The startup manufactures earth-friendly products like organic bath salts, body scrubs, shampoos, toothpaste, facial cleansers, and lip balms and also offers articles like menstrual cups, laundry detergent, bamboo toothbrushes, and stainless steel straws. The firm uses organic, local, and fair trade ingredients, and all of its products are non-toxic, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. It also uses a zero-waste and 100% recyclable packaging.
Sahar, a University of Cambridge alumni, began her journey by organizing workshops in flea markets in the city where she taught people how to produce their body care products and trained them about the ingredients in the products they use. Shar has also been leading a zero-waste lifestyle for more than five years. Bare Necessities products range between Rs 75 to Rs 2,000.
Carmesi: eco-friendly sanitary napkins
Carmesi, co-founded by Rikshav Bohra and Tanvi Johri in 2017, is an eco-friendly and sustainable solution to the usual synthetic pads produced in the market. Carmesi manufactures sanitary pads made of cornstarch and bamboo, without any harmful chemicals or polymerized components. The napkins come with environment-friendly wrappers and disposal bags as well. The firm also offers biodegradable panty liners and a reliable intimate cleanser.
The price range for the pads ranges from Rs 249 for a box of 10 to Rs 2,499 for a box of 120 pads. They are available in two sizes- regular and extra-large.
The solution aims at solving the problems arising from the enormous waste generated from the use of synthetic pads. One single plastic-based pad takes between 500 to 800 years to decompose fully, and often cause discomfort and rashes to its users.
Co-founder Tanvi also wanted their customers to feel empowered while buying and using the napkins and ensured that the packaging was bright and beautiful, unlike the black polythene packs that “scream shame and embarrassment.” The company also offers a uniquely customized delivery schedule, tailored to the customer’s period dates.
Everwards India: sustainable everyday products
Everwards India was founded in 2018 by Sudarshana Pai and Veena Balakrishnan. The startup offers eco-friendly alternatives for over 40 everyday products, that includes pencils made from newspapers, notebooks made from recycled paper, zero-waste period kits, copper water bottles, silicone menstrual cups and bamboo straws, and toothbrushes. The startup based in Chennai also offers environment-friendly body care products like handmade soap and powder shampoo.
Everwards also makes use of components like coffee grounds to make body scrubs, scrap fabric for bags and coconut shells for teacups, cutlery, and soap dishes. The products are priced between Rs 69 to Rs 1,679 with a focus on affordability for the major portion of the Indian population.
Soapworks India: Handmade natural skincare
Soapworks India, founded by Harini Sivakumar in 2015, manufactures 100% plastic-free safe skincare products. The Gurugram-based startup offers products like body butter, deodorants, facial oils and masks, shampoo bars, cold press soaps, scrubs, and lip balms, priced between Rs 118 to Rs 2,189. It also offers sustainable products like menstrual cups, bamboo straws, and coconut wood cutlery.
The clients are even encouraged to return empty bottles so that they can be recycled responsibly with an added cashback offer. Sivakumar, at the outset, experimented with making non-toxic body care products to cater to the special needs of her son born with Down syndrome and was at a heightened risk of infection due to harmful chemicals. She launched Soapworks India after realizing that the soaps she made at home had become a massive hit among her friends and family.
The company also employs women from economically weaker backgrounds and people with disabilities such as autism and Down syndrome.
Trucup: an alternative menstrual solution
Trucup, founded by Alakshi Tomar and Shivangi Bagri in 2018, is a Delhi-based startup that manufactures menstrual cups, a sustainable solution to pads that contain high amounts of plastic. The menstrual cups produced by the company can be reused for up to 10 years with proper care, preventing large amounts of plastic from ending up in landfills. The cups are priced at Rs 999 and are available in two different sizes. The co-founders also conduct workshops to bust the common myths about menstruation and elaborate on how menstrual cups work and why they are a better alternative to tampons and pads.