In conversation with Bangalore-based Sahar Mansoor, founder of zero-waste personal and home care brand Bare Necessities. She’s eager to collaborate with organic cafes and yoga studios for events; stores and boutiques to retail her products; and illustrators and designers who can create visual content. Talk to Sahar on Dysco here if you’re interested.
For those of you who are less familiar with zero-waste as a concept, it describes an effort to live ethically and economically, replicating the natural ways of doing things, reducing the amount of trash produced, and rebuilding our deteriorated environments. Those who live a zero-waste lifestyle actually produce absolutely no waste – they reuse, they recycle, and they repurpose, all in an effort to promote environmental protection. While advocates in developed nations still have a long way to go in educating more people about the cause, people in developing countries like India, are fighting a much more complex battle. Yet, the enormity of the challenge only serves as a reminder of the potential for change, especially for the ambitious amongst us, like Sahar Mansoor.
“I felt overwhelmed with India’s trash problem. I was confronted by it every day- seeing piles of garbage on the streets and I spent time with local waste pickers and watched them sort through waste with their bare hands. I started to think of the environmental, health and social justices issues associated with our garbage problem,” she tells us. Her discoveries and education pushed Sahar to set up Bare Necessities, a zero-waste brand that not only creates products that are good for you and the environment, but a brand that also works towards educating people about waste-free living.
“I produced only half a kilogram of trash, all of which fits in a 500ml jar”
It’s difficult for us to pick out the most impressive aspect of Bare Necessities, Sahar’s sustainable venture – their wholesome and caring products, their ethical philosophy and values, their amazing all woman team, or that the founder has been living a zero-waste lifestyle for 2 years now. “In that time, I have produced only half a kilogram of trash, all of which fits in a 500ml jar.” Producing only half a water bottle of waste in 24 months is a truly phenomenal achievement.
We wanted to discover more about Sahar, and how and why she created this beautiful brand. Sahar is a University of Cambridge alumna, with a background in environmental planning, policy and law. Given her interest in the field, she gained experience by working at the World Health Organisation in Geneva and SELCO Foundation on decentralised energy policy. Soon after, she decided to set up her own venture, to further a cause she cared deeply about. She tells us:
“I wanted to stop being part of the problem. I knew I had to address my own trash problem first. My solution was to live a lifestyle that best reflects the values I cared about. I had called myself an environmentalist for about six years at the time. I decided I needed to live a life fully congruent to my environmental and social justice values. I needed to walk the talk and I knew I had to start living a zero-waste lifestyle.
In my zero-waste journey, I realised 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, I wanted to create a company that mirrored the values of zero waste, ethical consumption and sustainability. I wanted to make it easy for other people looking to consume more mindfully and to encourage others to produce less waste. Bare Necessities was born.”
Every aspect of Bare Necessities’ brand communication and strategy reinforces what they stand for – nourishment, purity, mindfulness, and sustainability. “We only use organic, local and ethically sourced ingredients. If you’re like us, you’ll be happy to know all of our products are non-toxic, non-GMO, and cruelty-free. Plus, all of our packaging is recyclable, which means nothing ends up in a landfill,” their website proudly states. Lavender bath salts, multani mitti face masks, honey and oatmeal face washes – not only do they come from directly the earth, their nutritious ingredients also tempt your nose and taste-buds! Their products are designed not to last – they are handmade fresh, use all natural ingredients and have no chemical preservatives. Their recipes are deliberately kept bare, minus any fillers, so you get more of each carefully-curated ingredient!
More than just selling products, Sahar has built out services that even corporates, organisations, or brands can avail of – Bare Necessities offers consultancy services for those who want to incorporate sustainability into their business mode. With more and more people becoming environmentally aware and conscious, they can even help you plan a sustainable wedding or conference. “I love what I do – but I would have to say one of my favourite parts of my job is spreading awareness on the zero waste philosophy through workshops and talks. It’s a great medium to get insight into the minds of diverse audiences. There are typically super interactive and fun. I always come back learning something I didn’t know before.”
Sahar tells us about some of the highlights of her career, which includes interactive events across different industries and varied age groups. One of her favourite workshops was at Bangalore International School, with the special needs students of their Learning Centre. The workshop began with a mini trash talk and ended with all participants making DIY bath salts and lip balms. On the other end of the spectrum, Sahar has held corporate talks at both Google and Microsoft, which were exceptionally well received – “I never thought a room full of techies would be so excited to talk trash with me!”
The topics and themes of discussion cover a wide range of subjects related to zero-waste and sustainability. Audiences leave with an understanding of over consumption, the global garbage crisis and associated environmental and health impacts. Sahar explains how reducing waste means less environmental impact, less resources being used, less energy wasted and more money saved!
If you’re looking to collaborate with Bare Necessities, they’re looking to collaborate with a variety of passionate people and brands. They are keen on working with stores and boutiques to retail their earth friendly, handcrafted products. Sahar and her team are most excited to host more workshops, events and popups, particularly at organic cafés, yoga studios, corporates, schools and other venues. Also, if you’re an illustrator or graphic designer who can help spread awareness on our waste problem, in a more digestible, interactive engaging way, reach out and share your ideas with them. For all this and to know more about her journey, and what’s in that 500ml jar, connect with Sahar on Dysco!