Bare Necessities: Changing the “waste” Narrative

Reshma is one of the women on the manufacturing team; Bare Necessities engaged in a “I made your products” campaign to ensure transparency to the customers.

In our lifetime, the discussion of climate change has escaped the academic world of research papers and conference rooms to stare us in the face at every turn. It is here and it is real and the story seems dark. The only silver lining on this cloud is the growing tribe of aware consumers and producers taking conscious steps to untangle the Gordion knot of our high carbon footprint. Sustainable consumption is becoming the weapon of choice for ordinary environment lovers. This new age conscious consumer group has created a possibility of establishing a real-world healthy economy where the footprints of consumption get smaller and smaller.

Given the huge scale of its population and emerging supply chains, India stands at the cusp of a great opportunity. Primarily driven by its urban citizens and millennials, trends such as demanding to eat the right food cooked using the right fuel, demanding zero-waste products that are packaged in reusable material, choosing sustainable apparel over fast fashion are soaring.  Even sustainability in a product’s supply chain – from sourcing and design to production and shipping is becoming a key factor of consumer’s buying decision. The conscious consumer and millennials are looking for ethical, environment friendly brands that put people and the planet ahead of profits. This cross-industry trend in India is fuelling tremendous innovation in industries like fashion and cosmetics, food and agriculture, travel, automobile and so on.

Assortment of Zero-waste, Handcrafted products based on traditional science formulas

Social Alpha’s latest portfolio company Bare Necessities intends to change the narrative on waste in India by making it easy and even lucrative to subscribe to the philosophy of ‘less is more.’ The recipes for Bare Necessities’ products are literally bare, without any chemical preservatives or fillers. The Company is producing high quality zero-waste, earth friendly personal care and lifestyle products using handcrafted traditional science-based formulas and packaged in recyclable, reusable and biodegradable packaging. By producing 100% zero-waste products, relying on ethical sourcing and creating a fully zero-waste supply chain from sourcing to sale, Bare Necessities is setting the benchmark for sustainable consumption with their ‘zero-waste’ and ‘less is more’ approach.

Team member Shabreen facilitating a zero-waste workshop at the local M.M School in Bangalore

The key innovation here is to optimize the supply chain in such a manner that longer shelf life is needed less and less. This will help bring genuine “made by hand” status to every single order. To ensure the products are not only good for an individual buyer but the greater community and the planet, the startup uses organic ingredients sourced locally from farmers. BN knows their effort hinges on customer awareness. They have also designed educational workshops and offer sustainability consulting services to help individuals and communities transform from waste generators to impact creators.

Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that will never biodegrade are dumped in landfills and oceans every year worldwide. Bare Necessities created Compostable Bamboo Toothbrushes, to help solve this problem.

Starting off with a very academically linear approach in the early days straight out of Cambridge, Bare Necessities founder Sahar Mansoor realized that much of our waste problem is really a social justice issue while working with underserved communities. Sahar decided to live a life fully congruent to her environmental and social justice values. She has been living a zero-waste lifestyle for three years now. In that time, she has produced only half a kilogram of trash, all of which fits in a 500ml jar. In her zero-waste journey, she realized that it was impossible to find personal care and home care products that didn’t contain harmful chemicals and weren’t packaged in plastic. In response to this problem, she wanted to create a company that mirrored the values of zero waste, ethical consumption and sustainability and wanted to make it easy for other people looking to consume more mindfully and to encourage others to produce less waste.

Founder and CEO Sahar Mansoor, living a zero-waste lifestyle for the last three years.

For Sahar, this is not just a business idea but a matter of the heart. Her father shared his love of nature with her when she was a child. After losing him, she healed herself by reconnecting with nature. This connection endured and she took up environmental studies in college at Cambridge and soon, she found herself sitting down with her Dean to design a course on environmental planning. As she progressed, Sahar became increasingly aware of trash – the environment eating monster created by the combined impact of convenience, urbanization and globalization. Her work with a solar energy enterprise taught her that social justice was an intricate piece of the human waste puzzle in India. She experimented with switching to a zero-waste lifestyle and tapped into the wisdom of the older generation to learn about traditions rooted in ecological practices. This entire experience culminated into the beginning of Bare Necessities.

“I am passionate and mission-driven when it comes to my work. I also want my ideas to be economically viable. I needed an investor who would value impact as much as a good financial return. In Social Alpha, I found the right balance of expectations which allows me to focus on ‘people, planet and profit.’ I believe that SA and BN are partners in a symbiotic relationship based on mutual appreciation of values,” says Sahar.

Assortment of Zero-waste, Handcrafted products based on traditional science formulas

Why are we investing in Bare Necessities

Climate action is a critical is part of our charter and our aim is to fight climate change by enabling entrepreneurs and innovators to catalyze climate action in India. At Social Alpha, we endeavor to build an ecosystem of deeply committed start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovators, who will build compelling solutions that encourage and promote sustainable consumption. Social Alpha treats this trend as an opportunity to nurture a community of sustainability-conscious consumers and producers. It is time for high impact start-ups to thrive by addressing this newly emerged market demand. The idea is to support innovation in everything which impacts modern life – from lifestyle to climate-resilient agriculture to waste management and everything in between. The investment in Bare Necessities, a zero-waste product and service company, is a step in that direction.