Building A Zero Waste Business: An Interview with Sahar Mansoor

This week, we were excited to speak to Sahar Mansoor, Founder and CEO of Bare Necessities, to talk about her Zero Waste business, her passion for living sustainably and how she tries to spread the green love.

Bare Necessities creates sustainably made home and personal care products that are handmade, non-toxic, non-GMO and cruelty-free, made as sustainably as possible.

Sahar Mansoor herself is a long-standing advocate for sustainability, having an academic background centered around environmental planning, policy, and law, making her love of nature and its conservation deep-seated and integral to her belief to protect it however she can.

Here, she tells us about her green journey, its effect on her business ventures and daily life as well as how slow fashion was brought to her attention.

This her green story.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and Bare Necessities.

What is something you wish people knew more about when it comes to personal care products and their effect on the environment?

This is a great question, and it all comes down to us understanding and becoming aware that our lives consist of consuming a lot of personal care and lifestyle products to keep our bodies healthy. Additionally, products widely sold in the market today are infused with chemicals, packaged in an unsustainable manner while gaining immense economies of scale, leading to the poor treatment of employees and others involved in the supply chain, along with negative impacts on your own body, and the environment around you

Sustainable Beauty is a phrase that understands the importance of such products in our lives, but also believes that these very products can be sourced, manufactured and sold in a manner that is environmentally-friendly, supporting local communities and with complete transparency regarding what goes into the products we use. 

To give you a simple example, let’s take a look at toothpaste. This is a staple in our morning routine. But have you realized that the toothpaste you use is full of chemicals, and packaged in a way that when disposed of, it ends up in our landfills contributing to all forms of pollution. These same products are manufactured and sourced by farmers and employees that are not adequately paid, just to ensure this very toothpaste can be sold at a lower price, increasing the demand further. 

 Sustainable Beauty takes this into consideration. Our Bare Necessities Peppermint toothpaste are locally sourced, with all-natural ingredients and environmentally-friendly packaging. It just gives people a solution to continue being passionate about beauty products while caring for our health, our communities, and the environment we live in.

What else do you do to encourage sustainability in your profession/network?

As part of our mission at Bare Necessities, our mission to create environmental and social impact by offering zero-waste solutions to empower local communities, and to change the mindset on sustainability in India and beyond.

In terms of profession, Bare Necessities is my 24/7. Everything I can do to encourage sustainability is typically done through Bare. This includes organizing talks in schools, and organizations, to help raise awareness of our garbage problem, putting it into perspective while also sharing solutions and DIY workshops so you can feel empowered to go zero-waste at home without spending any money. We are also hoping to increasingly contribute to the education sector to enable our future generations to continue making an impact.

Additionally, through Bare, sustainability is more than just the environment. We employ local women and source our materials locally, to ensure we are helping local communities around India while contributing to the growth of India’s economy.

I do also believe in simply influencing those around me through my very actions. Whether that means carrying my reusable bags, reusable containers, straws etc, it allows to spark conversations and help raise further awareness on how we can all be part of the solution.

When did you become aware of slow fashion and what would you like to see change in the fashion industry so that it can become even more sustainable?

My mum ran an organic baby clothing company for a couple of years until I was about 8 or 9 years old. I grew up playing in the factory amidst cotton cloth scraps. But it was only years later I understood the social and environmental justice issues associated with our fashion Industry. My oldest sister Sabah Mansoor, studied fashion and textile designer (she is amazing and was at New York Fashion Week when she was 26 years old!)Sabah, led her own sustainable clothing brand. Through Sabah, I was able to really understand why having a local ethical supply chain was so important. I also understood the important difference between handcrafted vs mass-produced products.

However, I first became aware of the term “slow fashion” after watching the documentary, The True Cost. The documentary that really helped me realize several aspects of the fashion industry from production to the treatment of garment workers to the Rana Plaza Collapse, to its negative impacts on our environment, such as our rivers and soils through pesticides and mining, among so many others.

Sui's new collection 'Flow', is all about slowing down to appreciating moments and nature around us. What is your favourite piece and how do you manage to take a moment for yourself within your busy day?

The Lighthouse dress and our Sundown knit dress (Flow edition).

What is the most important lesson your sustainable journey has taught you?

As any entrepreneur or working professional would share, it has been quite a hectic process. Having to deal with legal entities, a currently underdeveloped ecosystem for zero-waste, and changing existing consumption habits poses to be quite stressful at times. 

However, the journey has been extremely rewarding because it opens your eyes to those who are seeking to make a change for the betterment of our environment. Having the opportunity to educate and raise awareness at schools and universities, and seeing that people are actually quite concerned yet motivated to contribute makes this journey that much easier. 

This journey is my passion so putting my all into it is just something I want to do, rather than a need to do!

Having a team that is super supportive, knowledgeable, creative and as passionate as I am, helps this diversify the journey from MY journey to OUR journey!

What is a green pledge you try to live by every day?

Try and be outdoors every day, so we can appreciate nature and the environment around us. The more we expose ourselves to nature, the more we realize the real value of all that is around us.

What advice would you give others about how to live greener?

Consumers can become more conscious by seeking more from products than just the price point. Looking at the ingredients in your products, understanding the value and vision of a company in the beauty industry and taking the effort to visualize the lifecycle and communities that have worked on the product, help us all become more aware of what we are consuming. The more consumers support sustainable beauty brands, the more the market dynamics will shift to sustainability.

The biggest misconception is that sustainable products form a niche or are for the elitists, however, that is simply not the case. The more consumers become aware of and consume sustainable products, the more a sustainable business sells, which in turn leads to decreased prices for the masses. 

As cliché as this statement has become, ‘We don’t need a handful of people doing zero-waste perfectly, we need everyone doing zero-waste imperfectly,’ it is so important for us to read this and be aware of this wholeheartedly. Everyone is in their own zero-waste journey. We need to simply continue being motivated through the actions we are taking and continue transitioning to a low-waste, mindful and responsible consumption lifestyle.

 

For more interviews and stories about our journey, check out the rest of our Green Journal blog here and to continue supporting us in our sustainable journey, check out our new winter edit, ‘Flow’.