An Environmentalist by nature, Sahar Mansoor’s world was flipped when she discovered a video of Bea Johnson’s zero waste lifestyle. Having studied at University of Cambridge & worked with WHO & SELCO once she returned to India she began to witness the waste crisis as a form of social injustice as opposed to a mere health & environment hazard she previously thought it to be. She opted for a zero waste lifestyle which made people question, think and understand the need for this major life altering decision. While she was discovering ancient Indian ways of life before plastic made an appearance, she was also experimenting sustainable techniques and products. Her products were such a success amongst the growing group of environmentally conscious in India that she soon formulated a business around it. Her brand Bare Necessities, not only sources responsibly, but has an all women team who carefully manufacture each sustainable product in a zero waste format. She is well known for her workshops, talks, discussions and ideas and a total badass in our opinion for spearheading a much needed ideology in India.
In this exclusive interview with BeBadass, Sahar discusses her journey so far and her take on an environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Was it difficult to change your lifestyle so extremely?
It was honestly very incremental, but the hardest was finding the products I needed to get kick started.
How did you evolve your lifestyle choice into a brand?
I am an accidental entrepreneur, though I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs. Bare Necessities (BN) started in the pursuit of zero waste living and living a lifestyle congruent to my own values. In 2015 I was doing informal DIY zero waste workshops at flea markets, cafes. We slowly started retailed personal products at 1 flea market a month. Slowly people started asking us where they could get products, when they weren’t at flea markets. And bulk stores started to approach us. So formally we got incorporated in 2016.
What were some of the challenges you faced initially with Bare Necessities?
Access to financial capital, sourcing raw materials in a zero waste manne, the list could go on!
Do you think social entrepreneurship is still niche, especially in India?
Yes definitely, but definitely growing!
What is more important you at the moment, spreading awareness or increasing sales?
We are trying really hard to do the right combination of both. We need to make sales, to pay salaries and keep working on new products etc. Through our talks and workshops, we addressed over 10,000 people in the past 3 years; and sold over 15,000 zero waste products. That’s that many fewer plastic straws, brushes, plastic body wash bottles in the oceans and landfills. At Bare we spend a significant amount of our resources on educating and empowering people, communities and businesses about the impact of their choices on the environment. From coconut vendors to local coffee shops.
We even dedicate large chunks of our time teaching people how to live more waste free through our DIY workshops, and give them the ability to create their own zero waste products from home. We work with people of all age groups, socio economic backgrounds to collectively create a zero-waste movement in India.
Do you have any professional regrets?
It’s all been an amazing learning experience, WHO, SELCO, Bare!
Some say that zero waste lifestyles barely make a difference given the bigger picture of global industrial pollution. Thoughts?
Because we are in the largest global garbage crisis of our lifetime. Every toothbrush, shampoo bottle you have used in your lifetime, currently exists on the planet somewhere and will probably outlive your grand grandchild!
These plastic water bottles take anywhere from 200 - 700 years to start break down and never fully do, they just break down into very small fragments and land up in your dinner.
Some misconceptions people have about a Zero waste lifestyle.
It’s expensive, it’s time consuming and it’s only for hipsters.
Zero Waste life may be too extreme for some. What is the next best alternative?
Do whatever you can! Every bit counts =)
Key things an environmentally conscious consumer should keep in mind when shopping?
· What is the product packaged in?
· How were the raw materials sourced?
· Environmental externalities of the product?
· Who made it?
· How much did they get paid?
Apart from your own brand what other brands do you like and recommend?
My absolute favourite for clothing and sports gear - Patagonia
When it comes to Indian brands, for clothing - Ikkivi, Threadology, The Summer House, Nicobar, Aureole, Msafiri
For jewellery - Kritha
For coffee - Third wave coffee roasters
Who is a Badass woman?
Someone who is not afraid to be authentically herself!
Name a few Badass women who inspire you
Michelle Obama, Shilo ShivSuleman, Jane Goodall, Joy Mangano
Any advice for women trying to make a difference to the world & make it as social entrepreneurs.
I am in no position to give advice, I am still learning and have lots more to learn. But perhaps, if I had to, I would share this quote that has really inspired me:
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. - Mark Twain