By Sukant Deepak
November 25, 2021 (IANSlife) In the year 2018, going through a personal journey of switching to a more sustainable lifestyle, Chaitsi Ahuja founder of 'Brown Living' started re-evaluating her ways of consuming and eating habits, figuring out what she believed in, her ethos is, and what kind of work she would like to be known for.
Her personal struggles clubbed with her eco-anxiety led her to make a change and start a journey of zero-waste and plastic-free living. She realised that this journey was not easy unless she puts in many months of research on choosing the right products for your health and that of the planet.
“As part of my research, I spoke to many customers and businesses to understand why the eco-friendly industry hasn’t received the limelight it deserves both from a consumer preference and a business focus point of view. It was in November 2019 when I finally launched a platform to make sustainable lifestyle accessible and affordable to all," Chaitsi Ahuja, founder of 'Brown Living' tells IANS.
Even as the market space for sustainable products is becoming competitive by the day, Ahuja, one of the first few early entrants, feels that competition demonstrates that there is a definite market for sustainable products and that there is an upward trend for growth. That is precisely why we wanted to create a marketplace that promotes a healthy, fair, and financially viable platform for sellers, both small and large, to showcase and sell their products.
She adds that her brand has been instrumental in forming collaborations and synergies between sustainable and ethical brands wherein they collaborate and co-create to promote this lifestyle. However, our challenge remains to compete with large, funded companies with over-consumption and single-bottom-line growth (profit) as their main agenda. It’s about time we institutionalise the triple-bottom-line reporting (people-planet-profit) to be able to truly make a change. We are already seeing the shift in equity markets with ESG Funds.
Stressing that "going plastic-free is a journey, and it doesn't happen overnight," Ahuja, who was part of a panel discussion during the recently concluded National Tribal Dance Festival, held in Raipur, tells IANS that we need to get used to the fact that plastic is a relatively new material (around 200 years old), but is not leaving our homes anytime soon--at least 900 years for all the stuff we’ve made in just 200 years.
Due to ‘convenience’ and ‘urban-living, the key marketing tactic for most FMCG brands has been to promote ‘packaged goods’. From fruits and vegetables to steel containers, everything you buy comes wrapped in plastic that is impossible to recycle. All we can do is delay the process of that piece of plastic going into a landfill by finding a new role for it, upcycling it, recycling it responsibly, and ensuring it doesn’t end up in a landfill or pollute our oceans.
Becoming sustainable is a journey and we all need to be mindful of all the things we consume. So the next thing you buy, ask them for plastic-free packaging; carry your own bag to the grocery store; carry a spoon and straw when you eat street food; read the labels when you buy your produce; segregate your waste; understand the recycling symbols; and if you need to shop, shop only sustainable.
Even as her business impacts over 3,000 artisans, 270+ MSME's, and 176 women entrepreneurs while planting 10,000 trees to negate their footprint (as a business), this entrepreneur says that nearly 3 in 4 millennials suffer from eco-anxiety without really knowing it. "I am one of the 75 per cent of these millennials, and I can tell you with faith that it is because of them that we are seeing even a slight change in consumption habits, brand communications, business models, and government policy changes at large." Unfortunately, millennials don’t have a choice but to switch to a sustainable lifestyle as we are bringing in the future generations and raising them for a world that may not exist. "
Her personal journey began in March 2019, when she embarked on a challenge known as the "buy nothing project," in which she resolved not to buy anything new except food.
Looking at improving their footprint in India and becoming a household name in sustainable living, Ahuja says that the platform also wants to remind people of the values we as Indians have practised of living zero waste for generations.
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