Profiles in Regeneration: Sachi, 22, India
Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of massive production.
Young people all around the world are working to build a regenerative future. At 22, Sachi Tungare is one of those people. She wants to upcycle discarded ceremonial flowers into biodegradable hotel toiletries.
Regenerative Futures: How are you feeling right now?
Sachi Tungare: I recently graduated so it feels like the world is at my feet! And a bit sleepy actually.
RF: What’s a secret your search history can tell us about you?
ST: That I am not very good at remembering song names. Yikes!
RF: What are you reading/learning about at the moment?
ST: At the moment I’m quite fascinated by the social relationships and connections between plant life demonstrated in the book The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World (The Mysteries of Nature) by Peter Wohlleben.
RF: Who is your favorite human and why?
ST: Does my dog Cindy count? Well, she believes she’s human anyway. She is the sweetest and so loving yet such a feisty lil grandma.
RF: Which key moment inspired you to start your project?
ST: Every year we celebrate the birth of Lord Ganesha with an idol brought home. The idol is dressed with flowers among other items, and the celebrations continue for the next few days. The festivities end with the idol being submerged in communal artificial tanks with a separate humongous bin for the floral waste. Seeing the large amounts of flowers being discarded got me thinking about how flowers are such a big part of Indian culture—not just at festivals but at weddings, and in temples and households on a daily basis. The realization that flowers that were going to waste when they still had value was the starting point for this project.
RF: In two years’ time, what would success with your project look like?
ST: I would like to have achieved a developed and refined product range after having thoroughly experimented further, along with having conducted intensive product testing. I would also like to tap into other local, indigenous waste streams, contextually utilize the theory of circular economy, and work on developing alternative materials.
RF: If you could focus a large percentage of government funding on one industry or project for the next five to ten years, which would you choose and why?
ST: There’s a huge number of Indian designers and entrepreneurs working to find sustainable alternatives to plastic. They have the ideas, and they even have working prototypes—all they need is funding for executing, scaling, and mass-producing these projects. There needs to be careful thought put into breaking the habit of using single-use plastic. Recycling plastic is great, but it’s not enough. The real problem is that single-use plastic is incredibly reckless—plastic items like grocery bags, which we use for an average of 12 minutes, can persist in the environment for half a millennium. Encouraging individuals to recycle more will never solve the problem of massive production.
RF: What is the best and worst thing about the education system in your country?
ST: Best — the Indian education system is notorious for pressuring students to be the best. While that has its own negative repercussions, the benefits for many are reaped at a later level, in terms of a steady work ethic and an ability to handle pressure. Besides that, they recently brought in subjects like design thinking and artificial intelligence at a high-school level, which is fabulous! Worst — while constant testing eventually leads to benefits, it causes the students to memorize the subject matter blindly. Rote learning.
RF: Do you have a message for anyone your age living in the year 2060?
ST: Sorry for the history chapter on 2020.
RF: What inspires or frightens you most about the future?
ST: What frightens me is that we only have seven years until Earth’s carbon budget is depleted, based on current emission rates. A total depletion would thrust the world into further turmoil and suffering through more flooding, more wildfires, worsening famine, and extensive human displacement. Doom.
To learn more about Regenerative List finalist Sachi Tungare, click here.