To ride currents, seahorses clutch drifting seagrass or other natural debris. In the polluted waters off the Indonesian island of Sumbawa, this seahorse latched onto a plastic cotton swab — “a photo I wish didn’t exist,” says photographer Justin Hofman.

Being the hero the planet needs.

With every rupee we spend, we vote for the world we want to see around us.

World Environment Day. A good (enough) trigger to finish and publish a post that’s been simmering for quite a while inside me.

It’s been interesting — being part of a clean-up crew collecting sacks of garbage on Carter Road, cleaning while running and cycling solo in Goa (I believe this has become a ‘thing’ in recent months and is now called ‘plogging’), encouraging (read: scolding) my colleagues in office for mindlessly littering and creating waste when avoidable, and more.

The Karamchaari Gang in Bombay, collecting trash and cleaning @ Carter Road. (L-R) Pankaj, Srini, Neha, Self, Prachee.

And while all that is great and all, I realised that not enough of what I was doing focused on simple, systemic changes in life(style) and habits, that while needing minimal effort, could have immense impact. That could ensure easier solutions to consuming less plastic and thus creating less waste. This is going to be about some of those systemic changes — recommendations if you will.

Soap Bars

A lot of us, self-included, have in the last decade or so moved to shower gels as our default bathing soap. They’ve evolved as well — from plain old liquids and gels, to now fancy ones with activated charcoal, particles for exfoliation, and god knows what bloody else.

It took me one of those shower epiphanies to realise that a simple move (back) to soap bars, will lead to me reducing waste of at least two plastic bottles a month!!

With a new soap dish installed on my bathroom wall, and me being forever in love with the Liril girl, I now have a gorgeous smelling green Liril for my baths. Sigh. *dreamy eyes*

Safety Shaving Razors

In all honesty, I am yet to execute on this one. Most of us use a ton of razors through the course of our lives. And are quite often also equally annoyed but just how there is a Mach N+1, when you’ve just only got yourself the Mach N from Gillette.

We should all just head to Bombay Shaving Company and get their extremely gorgeous safety razors, and blades. I’ve been in love with them for so long now, I have no idea why I haven’t got myself one yet. (Consumer behaviour is indeed often inexplicable. Sigh).

Bamboo Toothbrushes

One toothbrush. Every 30–90 days, depending on your changing cycle. That’s at least 6 toothbrushes a year. That’s about 400 odd, in your life.

400 toothbrushes. That won’t degrade for at least 300 odd years.

Yeah, no. Let’s just all please get a bamboo one — I got my first one not very long back, from Bare Necessities — a great Bangalore based startup with a plethora of products to help you go zero waste.

Go get yours here.

Stainless Steel Straws

A lot of us are drinkers of habit. A coconut water every day, or if you’re like me, then a mango shake every day of the gorgeous scalding Delhi summer, and a smoothie for breakfast quite often.

A stainless steel straw is a phenomenal way to just negate one of the biggest causes of single-use plastic — plastic straws. Get one of these (here)— and just carry them around with you, in your bag. My straw is also from Bare Necessities.

What’s a lot harder to do here, honestly, is remembering to tell the vendor to not give you a straw, than just carrying your own steel one around. I’m getting there, slow and steady, myself.

Samriddh Dasgupta enjoying a wood-apple juice/shake in our office, with my stainless steel straw.

No Garbage Bags / Compostable Bags

6 months ago, we (Bold Kiln | OperatorVC) used to go through about 2 rolls of garbage bags every month (20 days * 6 dustbins = 120 bags, which was about two rolls worth).

One fine day, we decided to move away from dustbin bags entirely, and what helped was having the kind of dustbins which made that alright, and ensuring they were washed frequently enough. However, if stopping using bags entirely isn’t quite possible, you could move to compostable garbage bags.

My recommendation here would be these ones from Truegreen, available at Eco365.

PS. You’ll also find another option — oxo-biodegradable bags; while great — they’re not ideal for many reasons that I won’t get into, and you’d really rather get compostable ones itself.

Composter

This one isn’t really about plastic waste, but wet waste. Waste from your kitchen that often ends up as garbage and litter on the streets. Again — this is something I haven’t acted on yet, but hopefully will sooner than later.

Partly fuelled by my and my mothers love for gardening, and part with trying to just have less waste around; I’ve been looking around for an affordable composter for longer than I can remember, but it’s been challenging.

I still haven’t found one, but this one by Orbin, though not cheap at INR 15k, seems to be exactly what our office needs. Now to start putting money aside, to get one.

Non-Disposable Sanitary Pads Options

Quite obviously one where I wouldn’t have any first-hand experience, but I’ve met and spoken with several women who’ve made the switch from more regular sanitary pads or tampons, to options that are less ‘one-time use’.

Primarily — that’s been either Menstrual Cups (great ones from the folks at Sirona here) or Reusable Cloth Sanitary Pads (EcoFemme seems to be the common choice on this — here)


Let’s do this, folks! Really.

What do you make of these systemic changes? If you do take on and try / adopt any of them — please do tell me. It would make my day, I guarantee you!

I would also love suggestions, ideas and recommendations on other systemic changes, that can create impact.


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Pen | Bold Kiln Press

Stories, insights and more. From Operators and Investors in the Indian startup ecosystem. Want to contribute? Tell us! abhishek@boldkiln.com

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Abhishek Agarwal

Written by

Entrepreneur (@BoldKiln) | Angel Investor (OperatorVC) | Ex-Strategy Consultant | IIM Ahmedabad, IIT Delhi | Runner, Triathlete | Parent to a Dog

Pen | Bold Kiln Press

Stories, insights and more. From Operators and Investors in the Indian startup ecosystem. Want to contribute? Tell us! abhishek@boldkiln.com