This blog was originally posted on Business Today on July 04 2022.
In a resolute effort to curb plastic pollution, India has imposed a ban on single-use plastic products from July 1, 2022, a move that synchronizes with Plastic Free July, an influential global campaign empowering people to cut down on plastic and make the planet more sustainable.
A breakthrough in this direction is Brown Living, India’s first and only plastic-free marketplace that consciously curates an array of everyday sustainable products – from apparel to home accessories, self-care and wellness – supporting sustainable, vegan, chemical-free and zero-waste lifestyles. Launched in 2019, Brown Living is the brainchild of Chaitsi Ahuja, a marketer and earth advocate, who has been living a plastic-free life for the past 5 years. Chaitsi, Founder and CEO of Brown Living, states, “Going plastic-free is a journey. It won’t happen overnight. I started with ‘use what you have first’ to ensure nothing goes to waste.”
Her mission to create awareness about conscious consumption is amplified by environmentalist and film producer Pragya Kapoor. “All of us have a role to play in conserving the earth and I believe we must make sustainable and kinder choices every day”, says Pragya, Business Partner and Investor at Brown Living.
Every year, India alone produces 9.46 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which 43% is single-use plastic. By 2050, global use of plastic could emit upto 56 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, aggravating the climate crisis. These alarming numbers require immediate action. Pragya adds, “If we stop single-use plastics completely, we would be able to delay the effects of climate change by a few years and also start managing our waste much better, reducing global temperatures, improving air quality and living conditions.”
At Brown Living, each product is made in India and selected through The Brown Lens, a proprietary framework that evaluates its environmental impact, fair trade, ethical sourcing and production. All orders are packaged and shipped plastic-free in biodegradable, plastic-free and recycled containers and shipped in 100% post-consumer boxes with plastic-free paper tapes. A share of profits is directed towards tree plantation drives. Labels and artisans who respect the people and planet feature exclusively on this platform. Till date, the aggregator hosts over 300 sellers with over 10,000 products from across India, with 72% women entrepreneurs.
Brown Living’s vision is to shift mindsets, make sustainable living mainstream and bust the myth that zero-plastic lifestyle is expensive or niche. “A lot of options for affordable plastic-free products are easily accessible now. Even if you go back to the traditional ways of shopping from kirana stores or buy produce by weight, in small batches, you will have fresher, healthier products both for you as well as the planet, while supporting local businesses. So, it’s an absolute win-win and completely guilt-free!”, Chaitsi adds.
Commenting on the plastic ban, she says, “The ban should have a tax-on-the-polluter component where manufacturers are held accountable for responsibly recovering and recycling the plastic they have put out in the market so far and changing packaging materials to be environment-friendly. Government funding and subsidies for companies producing biodegradable alternatives to single-use plastics could also prove to be a game-changer at the grassroot level. ”
Overall, Chaitsi is optimistic about living plastic free but “we need a systemic shift in our consumption habits, ask questions before we buy, and drastically reduce the amount of single-use plastic that we already create, consume and discard each year, while also finding intelligent ways to repurpose the plastic that already exists.”