Climate change is real, and today’s generation is well aware of the unprecedented rate of change in the world.
According to NASA, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, primarily due to carbon dioxide emissions. This has also resulted in rising sea levels, shrinking of ice sheets, and melting glaciers.
But a collective change in minor habits can bring significant changes. In India, women entrepreneurs are taking charge to enable change at a personal and organisational level.
Meet four women entrepreneurs who are making the world a healthier place through innovative solutions.
Prachi Shevgaonkar, Cool The Globe
While pursuing mass communication at Symbiosis International University in Pune, Prachi Shevgaonkar learnt that there are only three decades left to avoid the worst of climate change in India. The first step Prachi and her family took was a simple pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent every year.
Convinced that the actions need to be measured in numbers, Prachi decided to work on developing Cool The Globe, a free, citizen-led app for climate action that helps individuals reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a target.
Users can set monthly and annual targets to reduce GHG Emissions and record savings across more than 100 customisable climate actions embedded into their day-to-day life. A global meter also shows emissions avoided by every user.
After three years of working on the idea, from conception to design and beta testing with about 200 students from her college, the app was officially launched in December 2020.
Mihika Agarwal, Denimblu
Mihika Agarwal was surprised to learn the negative impact of fashion and textile impact on the environment. About 13 million tonnes of textiles, which makes up 85 percent of textiles produced, ends up in landfills each year.
This led her to start Denimblu, a startup that aims to reduce textile waste by reusing denim produced in factories to make fashionable products such as bags, holders, and aprons.
With the guidance of her mentors at Young Entrepreneurship Academy (YEA!), Mihika tied up with a vocational training centre for the disabled in Mumbai so the residents can earn from handcrafting the bags out of waste denim.
With products priced between Rs 400 and Rs 800, the startup faces direct competition from Dwij, which upcycles jeans into bags while sharing the marketspace with established brands like Baggit. The young entrepreneur makes sure to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness around the environmental cost of consumerism.
Zoya Wahi, Aslee
Zoya Wahi saw the damage done by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal first hand. Noting that one-time aid can go only so far in reviving the communities, she started Aslee, a Delhi-based business that works in partnership with indigenous Himalayan communities in India and Nepal to make sustainable apparel.
These communities are involved in every step of the supply chain from harvesting to manufacturing sustainable materials like hemp, bamboo, and nettle. Founded along with Nitij, the brand claims to promote slow fashion and work with local teams led by women.
The startup relied heavily on retail presence as Zoya believes its USP in the apparel industry lies in how the materials feel on one’s skills.
While the business has been promising in the initial years, COVID-19 struck soon after Zoya quit her full-time job in early 2020. With the supply chain disrupted, there was little business activity for a large part of the year and resorted to making masks during the pandemic. In 2022, it plans to expand product lines and ramp up marketing efforts.
Bhagyashree Bhansali Jain, The Disposal Company
After working for nearly seven years in the waste management industry for about seven years, entrepreneur Bhagyashree Bhansali Jain is now helping direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands offset their plastic usages through her Delhi-based startup The Disposal Company.
Working with about 30 brands at the moment, the startup conducts a one-time waste audit to assess their plastic footprint, the types of plastics used, and the corresponding quantity. After calculating their dynamic plastic footprint based on their month on month sale of products, the brand offsets an equivalent amount of plastic waste on the client’s behalf.
The startup works with a network of authorised recycler partners and about 400 ragpickers and waste aggregators across India, the startup gives them a target amount of low-value plastic waste from municipal waste and landfills, which are then cleaned, segregated, and recycled.
Edited by Teja Lele Desai