Meet four female entrepreneurs who are innovating to create a green world

Climate change is real, and today’s generation is aware of the unprecedented speed of change in the world.

According to NASA, the planet’s average surface temperature has risen about 2.12 degrees Fahrenheit (1.18 degrees Celsius) since the late 19th century, mainly due to carbon emissions. This has also led to rising sea levels, shrinking ice sheets and melting glaciers.

But a collective change of small habits can bring about significant changes. In India, women entrepreneurs are taking responsibility to enable change on a personal and organizational level.

Meet four female entrepreneurs making the world a healthier place through innovative solutions.

Prachi Shevgaonkar, Cool The Globe

While studying mass communication at Symbiosis International University in Pune, Prachi Shevgaonkar learned that there were only three decades left to prevent the worst climate change in India. The first step Prachi and her family took was a simple pledge to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent each year.

Believing that action must be measured in numbers, Prachi decided to work on developing Cool The Globe, a free, citizen-led climate action app that helps individuals reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a target.

Users can set monthly and yearly greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and track savings across 100+ customizable climate action actions embedded in their daily lives. A global counter also shows the emissions avoided by each user.

After three years of working on the idea, from conception to design to beta testing with around 200 students from her university, the app was officially launched in December 2020.

Mihika Agarwal, Denimblu

Mihika Agarwal was surprised when she learned about the negative impact of fashion and textiles on the environment. About 13 million tons of textiles, accounting for 85 percent of the textiles produced, end up in landfills every year.

This led her to found Denimblu, a startup that aims to reduce textile waste by reusing denim produced in factories to make fashion products like bags, halters and aprons.

Under the guidance of her Young Entrepreneurship Academy (YEA!) mentors, Mihika joined a vocational training center for disabled people in Mumbai so residents could benefit from handcrafting the bags made from denim scraps.

With products between Rs 400 and Rs 800, the startup faces direct competition from Dwij, which upcycles jeans into bags and shares the market with established brands like Baggit. The young entrepreneur makes sure to use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to raise awareness of the environmental costs of consumption.

Zoya Wahi, Aslee

Zoya Wahi saw firsthand the damage caused by the 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Recognizing that one-time help can only be of limited use in revitalizing communities, she founded Aslee, a Delhi-based company that works with indigenous Himalayan communities in India and Nepal to create sustainable clothing.

These communities are involved in every step of the supply chain, from harvesting to producing sustainable materials like hemp, bamboo and nettle. Co-founded with Nitij, the brand claims to promote slow fashion and work with local teams led by women.

The startup relied heavily on its retail presence as Zoya believes its unique selling point in the apparel industry lies in how the materials feel on one’s skills.

While business was promising in its early years, COVID-19 struck shortly after Zoya left her full-time job in early 2020. With the supply chain disrupted, there was little business activity for much of the year and resorted to manufacturing masks during the pandemic. Plans for 2022 include expanding product lines and intensifying marketing efforts.

Bhagyashree Bhansali Jain, The Disposal Company

After working in the waste management industry for almost seven years, entrepreneur Bhagyashree Bhansali Jain is now helping direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands offset their plastic consumption through her Delhi-based startup, The Disposal Company.

The startup, which currently works with around 30 brands, conducts a one-off waste audit to assess their plastic footprint, the types of plastic used and the amount involved. After calculating its dynamic plastic footprint based on its monthly product sales, the brand offsets an equivalent amount of plastic waste on behalf of the customer.

The startup works with a network of authorized recycler partners and around 400 rag pickers and refuse collectors across India. The startup gives them a target amount of low-value plastic waste from municipal solid waste and landfill, which is then cleaned, separated and recycled.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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