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BW Businessworld

BWDialogue: Bare necessities: How to live a zero-waste life

Sahar Mansoor, Founder, “Bare Necessities”, Author, and Tim De Ridder, author 'Bare Necessities - How to Live a Zero Waste Life' speak to Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld & exchange4media Group about living a minimum waste life, sustainability and the key ideas of their book.

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Dr. Batra: What brought about “Bare Necessities”, and why now?
Sahar Mansoor: Through the course of conducting workshops, my colleague Tim and I realized it was necessary to write about sustainability in book form. People were curious to know how they can play a part in reducing the “plastic pandemic” we are currently living in. The idea was to share all lessons, learnings, and failures in going zero waste, from personal care to the environment.

Tim De Ridder: The book took its final shape via zoom calls and webinars in the present situation.  I have been working with Sahar on and off in the last 12 months, which is when this book took shape.

Dr. Batra: What impact are you trying to make, acknowledging that what happens in one part of the world impacts the other?
Tim De Ridder: Given that we are all inter-connected was one of the purposes behind this book, to really highlight how things interact. The book talks about this in its “City and Travel” chapter, where we provide examples from all over the world, be it India or Australia where I am presently located, where there are more and more sustainable businesses, and more and more people are focusing on the circular economy.

Sahar Mansoor: The pandemic allowed us to get more mindful of the daily waste we are generating. The idea behind the book is to make people more conscious and introspective about the waste we are generating. We could see the Himalayas hundreds of kilometers away for the first time in 30 years, which should tell us that our actions do have an impact. My favorite chapter would be the “zero waste library” section, it has little things you can do, from DIYs to experiences to organizations and people in general.  

Dr. Batra: Give us one or two waste minimizing techniques from the book we can implement easily in daily life?
Sahar Mansoor: From carrying our cloth bag, water bottle, own cutlery set, etc. on the larger level, when we buy a car can we see what the electrical options are out there, can we walk to some places, can we take the metro or bike. The idea is to be more mindful of the waste we generate and look into circular models across. While zero waste starts from within, it ends with more large scheming things. How do we do product innovation, how do we support and incentivize these sustainable enterprises to exist?

Tim De Ridder: Talking and sharing knowledge enables us to share ideas and see what others are thinking and empathize with their situation. Communication spreads awareness, them learning from you and you learning from them.

Dr Batra: How will we bring about bare necessities in urban areas, though it is prevalent in rural areas?
Sahar Mansoor: We tend to associate going up the social ladder with more and more consumerism. We put the wrong value on wrong things, for which changing and innovating new models of everyday consumption are critical. For example, using sea-weed packaging rather than single-use plastic, so that it goes back to Mother Earth. The idea is to change everyday consumption patterns, which should be accessible to everyone.

Tim De Ridder: We are reflecting on the excess of, say, medical face masks or other things needed for good health during the pandemic but is causing environmental issues as well. In chapter two we have listed a couple of DIYs on how to make masks and other necessities on our own. Some companies are into collecting that waste and making the entire thing circular, while not waiting for the next 15 or 20 years.

Dr. Batra: if you could put your finger on the one thing that will become big in the near future?
Sahar Mansoor:
We will be seeing a lot of shared economy in the future, like bike rental services, scooter rental services, sharing cabs etc. People are not looking to purchase that as an asset. If we tall about a drill for domestic use, we do not use it for more than 30 minutes in a lifetime, so it makes greater sense to rent it out.

Dr Batra:  One trend that will impact the economy and the future in our lives?
Sahar Mansoor:
Packaging as we know it will see a re-invention, cause FMCG Sector as we know it has not seen any innovation in the last 30 odd years. We are going to see a lot of compostable packaging, which will be earth-friendly.

Tim De Ridder: The future is about financing an environmental market, say in the carbon reduction space. This will also incorporate creating livelihoods for many people while producing minimum waste. The focus will be on using the existing resources rather than extracting new ones as has been happening since the industrial revolution. 

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