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Speaking engagement: TERI's Sustainability Jukebox, 18th March, 2015

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

Green is in. But we have to stop thinking of the culture of sustainability as a trend. Living sustainably is a way of life. And it’s a million times easier said than done. The green industry has been on the upswing over the past decade showing a steady rise in growth of brands and industry turnovers, even then, the lifestyle is not entirely an easy one to follow.

I had the pleasure of speaking at the Sustainability Jukebox, an event organized at Hotel Arora Towers Pune, by TERI and Tetrapak. Here’s what I spoke at TERI's Sustainability Jukebox on 18th March, 2015.

I have no formal education in Environmental Science, nor can I consider myself a 100% authority on environmental issues. I run Green OK Please, a fledgling start-up and that pretty much makes me a struggling entrepreneur. I am thrilled to be here and if I can make even a handful of you consider an environmental career or make you aware of your lifestyle and its impact on the world around, I'll consider myself accomplished. Clichéd, but true.

The topic of this session is Trending Green, however to me, those two words coming together doesn’t work at all, they have to be split up. The meaning of the word trend is change – changing technology, fashion, etc. This is actually the root of the problem – we have too much stuff! Consider the impact of keeping up with the latest trends – mobile phones, clothes, laptops, shoes – have you ever stopped to think about what happens to these after you’re done with them? They are most likely crowding landfills somewhere in the world. I urge all of you to watch the 20 minute video ‘The Story of Stuff’. It talks about the way we use and throw stuff. The line that resonated with me the most was ‘It’s a linear system on a finite planet.’. The solution to the problem is to actually break the cycle of consumerism, to get back to the basics, to do it yourself and to buy and consume locally.

The start of Green OK Please:

And this is where Green OK Please comes in. We wanted to provide a platform where people could buy a locally sourced chemical free alternative to every product they needed – shampoo, toothpaste, food, clothes, even seasonal products

I usually picked up stuff from farming coops and small village stores when I travelled and realized that somehow making these products available to the masses was better than people using imported products or chemically laden ones.

My advice to you is that for those of you wanting to start up a venture of your own, identify a personal pain point. Mine was the fact that I wanted to move to using only organic products. I wanted to wipe out all chemicals from my life but that meant contacting a different person or organization for each item. The solution to this is a one stop store where one can find anything they need throughout the day. The keyword here being need.

We started small. At first GOKP was a blog where we talked about local environmental issues – burning of leaves, lack of landfill space, garbage being dumped in the river, natural ways to ward off mosquitoes and more. We’d try to find solutions to these problems and write about them.

Over time, many other like-minded people began to read the blog and reach out to us for more information, asking where they could actually find these products. This way Green OK Please went from being a content platform to a community of people wanting to make and use products that are safer for us and for the planet, to now being an ecommerce platform where one can buy all the products they're looking for.

Advice to young eco-preneurs:

Entrepreneurship is no walk in the park. When we started off, there were loads of problems. For starters, both us co-founders started off being in it for the passion and neither of us has a finance background. This is where we struggled a bit. I would also recommend working for a few years before starting off your own business because what you lack in education, you'll make up in experience. Having worked a few years, you'll definitely be more in control of the situation.

The 3 pillars of sustainability:

People, Planet, Profits – these are the 3 pillars of sustainability. Picture a venn diagram. Each of these represents a circle. What you do will definitely need to bring in profits, because that's what would make it a business. Then there are aspects of it which will benefit people, havdo something tat benefits people, make sure that the practices are in keeping with the planet and just have faith that the profits will come.

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