The story of a 30 million ‘zeros’- Bare Necessities
No, it’s not the number of zeros in the net worth of a billionaire. But, in fact this is as impactful, as you can imagine.
You cannot fathom the amount of plastic waste we generate every year. 275 million tonnes. That’s just the number we generate today. Imagine what it’ll be in the next 10 years, 100 years. Plastic doesn’t decompose. It stays in the ground for hundreds of years. And we have those plastics dumped in large landfills at such a rapid speed that soon we’ll run out of barren lands to fill it up with.
(LeBreton, Laurent & Andrady, Anthony. (2019). Future scenarios of global plastic waste generation and disposal. Palgrave Communications. 5. 10.1057/s41599-018-0212-7.)
Future projections of global mismanaged plastic waste (MPW) generation and distribution per continent under three scenarios.
Scenario A corresponds to a business-as-usual case where the level of waste management corresponds to data for 2015 and consumer demand for plastic increases with economy.
Scenario B considers that waste management infrastructures improve as per capita GDP grows.
Scenario C reflects a reduction in plastic demand per capita with fraction of plastic in municipal solid waste capped at 10% by 2020 and 5% by 2040, waste management gradually improves as in scenario B.
The above graph depicts that our way forward is to reduce plastic usage and improve waste management. We need to stop our enormous production of plastics, which in turn means our reliability on plastics must reduce. We also should move to alternative substitutes to plastic for every kind of product in every kind of industry.
People around the world, who is concerned with this statistic are speaking, writing and lecturing in conferences to create awareness regarding this. But only very few of them, actually go back to their homes to try that out. Then only some among them, take it out as an action plan for change to the society.
One person among those very few is Sahar Mansoor. A Cambridge university graduate who was working in SELCO foundation that provides energy solutions for the undeserved. While she was working in West Bengal for a community of waste pickers, she observed thousands of waste pickers segregate broken glass, sanitary napkins and needles all with their bare hands. This had a real impact on her, as she quotes;
“When I first faced the facts, I couldn’t believe how something as innocuous as our garbage could be negatively connected to so many of my personal and political concerns. I wanted to stop being part of the problem”.
She started addressing her own trash problem in the first place and then later translated to create a company, named “BARE NECESSITIES” that mirrored values of zero waste, ethical consumption and sustainability.
From thereon, Sahar has focused on growing her company by translating the zero-waste philosophy into products for those looking to consume more mindfully.
“We have sold a total of 47,600 zero waste products. So, through our calculations, this has resulted in saving 30 million plastic units from going into our landfills! Mind-blowing right? To put this in perspective, that’s 172,000 kg of plastic diverted from landfills!”
But Bare necessities is more than just a company. Sahar’s vision is just not to grow her company but create a zero-waste community. Her work hasn’t gone unnoticed as the recognition given to Bare necessities has helped them raise awareness about the importance of conscious consumption. Be it the ‘Make in India’ campaign or being titled Google’s ‘Inspiring Indian of the Year’.
Over the last five years, Bare necessities have directly impacted 200,000+ and 1,000,000+ people indirectly through their education initiative – Bare Learning, which was recently recognized as one of UNESCO’s Green Citizen Projects. Talks and workshops that have been organized for communities and organizations have driven behavioural changes on more than just the individual level.
When we asked, “What does her company stand for?” she said,