23 Mar Stonesoup – Aiding in a Zero-Waste Living
Stonesoup is a Bangalore-based organization, which is one of the finalists in the SEED awards, which recognizes eco-inclusive enterprises globally. Ennovent has partnered with SEED to implement the SEED Accelerator programme.
Stonesoup creates products to help people make the change towards sustainable living. They offer products related to personal care, home care, menstrual care and composting.
“Our products are comfortable to use and healthy for individuals and the environment. Health and environment are two sides of the same coin,” says Smita Kulkarni, co-founder of Stonesoup. Smita, an ex-techie, founded Stonesoup along with Malini Parmar, who also comes from an IT background.
“In the early days, we were volunteers in the waste management space where we conducted awareness sessions to encourage communities to live sustainably. However, while conducting these sessions we realized that while a small percentage of people would go out of their way to live sustainably, the majority wanted to do the right thing only if it was convenient. That’s why we started Stonesoup”, explains Smita.
“Our waste stream is largely of three kinds – wet waste, dry waste and sanitary waste which includes diapers and sanitary pads. And 60% of our waste by weight is wet waste. So, we have a composting solution for this. Similarly, for the 5% of sanitary waste, we have cloth pads, menstrual cups and cloth diapers to help people conveniently make the switch,” she adds.
On one hand, their products support a zero-waste living, on the other hand, their methods of procuring these products support local livelihoods as well. For the cloth menstrual pads, Stonesoup works with women’s groups in semi-urban areas in South India. “When we started selling cloth pads, we started with a group in Dharwad where we trained them in stitching cloth pads. These pads are called Dharwad pads in our product line. We now have Mandya pads, and Ladli pads (which are made in Dindigul) in addition to the Dharwad pads,” says Smita.
While several of Stonesoup’s products are disruptive, their biggest backbone is their network of Saathis who work all over the country to promote the agenda of a zero-waste lifestyle. Stonesoup Saathis are eco volunteers, who spread awareness about sustainable living in their neighbourhood. “We have a saathi network of over 75 women in different cities who stock our product,” says Smita. They are also currently extending their saathi network to the USA where they wish to expand their market.
Though sustainable and zero waste living is still relatively a new concept, Smita feels that more people are aware now. “When we initially started, we had to hold a
press conference to make people aware of the zero-waste options available for menstruation. But, now everybody knows about them. Social media has been a huge enabler,” she adds. With a core team of 8-10 people and a network of their saathis, Stonesoup is now venturing to markets in Tier 2 cities as well.
“When we started Stonesoup, we were always jittery about running the business since we had no knowledge of it”, says Smita, “The SEED Accelerator programme gave us more confidence in shaping the business, financial plans and marketing. Now that we are getting bigger, the programme helped structure our thoughts and work systematically towards it.”