Updated: Jun 15
What are the goals and values of starting a sustainable venture?
Entrepreneurship in the field of sustainability is slowly seeing a rise in India, with several students and activists coming up with new innovations and business models that are less harmful to the environment. On 17th May, Talk Dharti To Me hosted a webinar on Green Start-ups, to help people navigate this space.
The speakers at the webinar were Sonal Jain, Amita Deshpande, and Leesha Agarwal. They are founders and owners of green startups in the fields of menstrual health, waste upcycling, and sustainable and ethical fashion respectively. The speakers spoke about their goals and values in starting a sustainable business, and how consumers can be more thoughtful in their consumption so as to be more sustainable. They also answered the audience’s questions on a variety of topics - from their thoughts on thrifting to the growth of their digital platforms post-COVID. We even had a guest appearance from Leesha’s cat!
The webinar was insightful, interactive, and informative. In case you missed it, you can view the recording of the event here.
00:15 - Opening
1:06 - Introductions
3:28 - Sonal Jain
Sonal Jain is the co-founder of Boondh and a menstrual health activist. Sonal has been an MHH (Menstrual Health and Hygiene) facilitator since 2013 and has facilitated teams for World Merit UK in the space of environmental sustainability and education. They are a Laureate Global Fellow 2018, a World Merit Fellow 2015, and a recipient of the Microsoft Youthspark Challenge for Change - Global Award 2015. Their work on SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production, has been presented at the UN in New York City in 2016.
19:07 - Amita Deshpande
Amita Deshpande, the founder of "ReCharkha - The EcoSocial Tribe", has worked extensively in Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibility for the past 14 years. An IT Engineer by education, she went on to do her Master's at Purdue University, USA with a focus on Sustainability. She has worked with CSR teams of numerous MNCs, consultancies and non-profits and eventually founded Aarohana EcoSocial Developments. After leading Aarohana for 7 years, she founded ReCharkha EcoSocial to continue the same work of upcycling Waste Plastic.
31:23 - Leesha Agarwal
Leesha Agarwal is the founder and owner of Adah by Leesha. Leesha studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai, and while interning and working with various MNCs, she noticed that large amounts of scrap fabric and waste went into landfills every day. She also noticed that these companies were often unethical and exploitative in nature, with workers being underpaid and over-utilized, and customers unaware of this. She then decided to start Adah by Leesha, an ethical, zero-waste, handloom fashion brand.
40:36 - Q&A
40:50 - How do you expand sustainable living and an eco-friendly lifestyle to something more than on an individual level? How do you make greater impacts on a commercial/business level?
45:18 - How do you handle the digital landscape of your business post-covid?
48:56 - (To Leesha) What are your thoughts on a thrifting/thrift stores and how does it fit into the world of sustainable fashion?
53:45 - (To Amita) You founded Aarohona before ReCharkha, what were the specific differences in starting the second business?
55:54 - (To Amita) Where do you get the waste plastic from?
1:00:04 - How do you find the balance between making a sustainable business profitable and selling out?
1:03:30 - Closing and thanks