While we are all busy making our lives more advanced and fast, we often leave out practicing the general eco-friendly ways of life. Sustainability is no new term for anyone. While the market is filled with gimmicks ‘selling earth-friendly’ products, platforms like Brown Living come to educate and make a true difference!
Thanks to the advancement of technology that makes everything seem less troublesome. But these advancements came up with some downsides as well. Industrialisation asked us a hefty price to pay. As we kept on asking for more, we became ignorant towards its effects on the environment. We like to discard, dispose and get new stuff every few days. This lifestyle has had a massive negative impact but it’s never too late to indulge yourself for a cause that you need to be concerned about.
There has been an abundance of fast fashion and consumerism that has reached new heights. Well, Chaitsi Ahuja was one of such people who asked herself the right question – “What would the world look like today if plastic wasn’t so abundantly used?” She started ‘Brown Living’ – India’s first online store which is 100% Sustainable and Plastic-free. All products are made in India by women entrepreneurs, artisans and marginalized communities. By these means, the platform tries to promote a self-sustaining economy where innovation is created at home (indigenous technology and craft put to use for low impact consumption).
Brown Living: Idea to Execution
While keeping Urban India in mind (since the largest cities consume the most), Chaitsi wanted to find a way to live a zero-waste minimal life that was kind to our community, all species and the planet overall. Chaitsi shares, “My personal search led me to believe that there is definitely a way to lead a lifestyle that reduces human waste created by ethical consumption of truly sustainable products. I also realized that I could help sustainable businesses grow by creating a platform suited just for their needs by bringing them all together on one platform.”
From watching numerous documentaries, extensive readings and research on environment and climate action she did it all and created a framework (The Brown Lens) of what is truly sustainable – whether its production, sourcing, miles travelled or the afterlife of the product. She adds, “We strongly believe in the philosophy that ‘common good’ trumps ‘self-interest’. Since inception, we have enabled thousands of conversations and action-oriented interactions, not just to create awareness about sustainable living but also to make it accessible to the urban consumer of today through our efforts.”
The way to the execution of this idea was full of questions and barriers. Finding the right partners/sellers (which are truly sustainable) and helping them make a switch to plastic-free packaging (including daily operations for packaging for courier) was truly challenging. Also, changing the consumer behaviour to make them opt for a product that is better for the environment, one which reduces waste, carbon and plastic footprint was also a tough task for the team.
So, what makes Brown Living so unique?
Brown Living has all things sustainable; all products on the platform are 100% plastic-free and chemical-free. They also have a plastic-free shipping policy. They don’t use any foam or bubble wrap in packing and have even removed the plastic tape (and replaced it with a plant-based glue paper tape) from the entire shipping experience. “There lies an underlying assumption that practicing sustainability is a highly expensive affair – the perception is highly prevalent but what people don’t realize is that it is honestly a much more affordable lifestyle in the long run. The net benefit making the switch is much more than the price you pay for using a non-sustainable option”, she adds.
With an environment-first approach, they take a genuine interest in understanding materials and methods of creating products and services that can co-exist with the ever-evolving world, doing least damage to the earth. So they measure the impact of production, use and disposal of each product that is curated by them. A lot of products in the market have been greenwashed with labels that aren’t really eco-friendly. Through Brown Living, they sell products from suppliers who make truly sustainable products – by design, by use and by packaging. They follow a strict framework for product selection that helps them weed out the not-so-sustainable products through our curation process – The Brown Lens. The process holistically evaluates the product and measures its carbon impact.
Practicing Sustainability – Need of the Hour
Sustainable consumption is not just about changing behaviour but also about a shift in mindset. Chaitsi raises a very important point, “To be honest, we have always lived an eco-friendly and zero waste lifestyle. Ayurvedic practices, home remedies, composting has all been part of our culture for decades. We just need to reinvent old ways to make them relevant to our current lifestyles. And that awareness is already there and the shift is happening very quickly.”
Although we have a long way to go, she stresses how much we have to learn from other countries (Singapore, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark), “We need to influence policies to ensure the governments start to evaluate their policies against delivery of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. I honestly appreciate all those who are voicing their opinions to demand a change in the way our policy and laws operate concerning the environment – but we need more backing and support. It’s a world crisis and we all must do everything in our power to make a change. Whether it is to help communities like Fridays for Future and climate activists or to make small switches in our lifestyle.” Brown Living has planted about 400 trees and reduced the footprint of plastic for more than 3,500 consumers just in the launch phase.
At a time when climate change is a subject of heated political debate, businesses and brands too need to mainstream sustainability. Even as executives face tighter scrutiny to their bottom lines and returns on investment, consumers must demand their experiences include recycling, energy efficiency, and a small carbon footprint. For consumers to demand this, there must be awareness. If campaigns against climate action are shut down, how will we ever change?
The world is coming together as one to tackle climate change. We still have to go a long way to go to make an impact. But, it’s the only way forward for a sustainable product to become more affordable through scale. It is the need of the hour to become more environmentally sustainable as a community, as a country to truly thrive.