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At Goa’s First All-purpose Zero-Waste Store, You Can Buy Anything Without Plastic & Other Wasteful Packaging

Image Credits: Ecoposro

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Born and brought up amidst the tropical freshness of Goa, childhood friends Jonah and Elridge were noticing their beautiful land gradually turning into a garbage dump yard, courtesy the unplanned waste management and eco-’unfriendly’ lifestyle of the residents. Like the rest of the urban spectrum of India, Goans were also opting for a fast-paced lifestyle, befriending the indispensable ‘plastic’ in every walk of life. Jonah, the owner of a guest house and Eldridge, a restaurateur, had always been environmentally conscious. They noticed how their businesses are leaving behind a trail of plastic bottles, bags and non-biodegradable trash.

To compensate, both of them started organising clean-up drives in their town, Siolim and individually adopted a zero-waste lifestyle. For bringing more people into a greener domain, the two friends started Ecoposro, which is Goa’s first zero-waste all-purpose store. “Ecoposro”, (‘posro’ meaning a ‘small local shop’ in Konkani) is a place where anyone could conveniently shop for everything under one roof, without plastic and other wasteful packagings,” said Jonah.

You won’t find any trace of plastic at Ecoposro

How it all started

“When we decided to go zero-waste, we realised the how difficult it was to discard plastic packaging and procure quality goods. Suppose if we need ten items without plastic, we have to visit five different stores – which motivated us more to launch our own zero-waste initiative,” narrates Jonah.

Started in April 2018, Ecoposro has already become a favourite among the locals, who have personally witnessed the benefits of shopping from a zero-waste store.

Ecoposro

“When our customers happily exclaim that now they need to take out the trash only once in three weeks, we feel proud about doing our bit for the planet,” gleams Jonah. “Personally, Eldridge and I have seen our waste reduce by 75% in just a few months,’’ he adds.

How Ecoposro works

The fact that distinguishes Ecoposro from other ‘green’ commercial ventures is that here the owners strictly adhere to the zero-waste policy – right from procuring the raw materials to delivering them to the customers.

Coordinating with local vendors and farmers, Ecoposro requests them to avoid plastic during production. They bring the materials to the shop in gunny bags, jute sacks and reusable tin containers; and arrange them on the shelves in beautiful glass jars or coconut bowls. The customers are encouraged to bring their own paper or cloth bags. Else they are offered recyclable glass jars or paper packs to carry the groceries home.

“All we had to do was think back to the times of how our grandparents went shopping. They took their own containers to the shops, and the rest was wrapped in paper or cloth. And this is exactly what we are trying to bring back,’’ explains Jonah.

What Ecoposro offers

From everyday household essentials like grains, spices, cooking oils, and even local produce like coconut vinegar, rock salt and jaggery to milk and other dairy products, local eggs and bread, Ecoposro will take care of all your basic grocery needs. They also have a section of zero waste detergents, cleaners and toiletries like handmade soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, cloth sanitary pads etc. Naturally made organic cosmetic items have also found a place in Ecoposro. “Other than household items, we keep steel tiffins, copper water bottles and a few stationary items made from recycled paper and tetra pack,” Jonah enlists, detailing how a zero-waste store can actually substitute conventional departmental stores.

The vegetables sold at Ecoposro deserve a special mention as they are completely organically farmed by local organic farming enthusiasts – with zero chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Creating environmental awareness actually underlines all the purchases made at Ecoposro.

Different vegetables in the store

The response from the residents

The duo has received an overwhelming response from the locals which translates to be their primary motivating factor. From turning towards a zero-trash lifestyle to frequenting their clean-up campaigns, the Goans have welcomed the Ecoposro way of life warm-heartedly.

Ditching plastic is a bigger challenge than it sounds

Plastic is synonymous with our lives today. Cheap, durable, water-proof, convenient and readily available – it is hard to deny that plastic helps to keep grocery products fresh for a long time. So, initially, Jonah and Eldridge kept on losing their stocks of rice, pulses and grains due to moisture spoilage in the absence of an alternative preservation method. They sought help from senior citizens, who were accustomed to living plastic-free in older days.

Preservation is done right the traditional way

“For example, we learnt from our grandparents that chunks of ‘hing’ (asafoetida) could keep rice fresh and fragrant for around a year. You will find the revival of several other traditional methods of preservation at Ecoposro,” Jonah reveals.

Plans on the cards

Ecoposro has already fuelled the flourishing of an organic market in and around the Parra village, where small-scale local producers set up stalls and interact with the customers. The founders aim to create a sustainable community which has little dependence on environmentally unhealthy practices. A permaculture farm is also coming up just opposite the shop.

Permaculture vegetable garden

The devoted founders also dream of a cosy restaurant where people will be encouraged to prepare their family recipes and share those delicacies with the community.

Message for everyone

“According to statistics, by 2050, which is in 32 years, there is said to be more plastic in the sea than fish. We will be 60 years old when this happens. We don’t want this to become a reality,” Jonah shares.

“Alternatives such as glass and paper both have restrictions such as weight and strength respectively, but if we are not ready to carry home a heavier bag for the sake of the environment, then we need to reconsider our priorities seriously,’’ he adds.

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Goonj Is Working With 1000’s Of Volunteers & Partner NGOs To Provide Covid-19 Relief In 18 States

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With the extension of the lockdown the crisis of migrant labourers and daily wagers has just grown bigger due to uncertainty and fear of future. In the migrant colonies, slums and for people in the villages hunger and desperation is building up day by day. This is high time we step up our efforts to support our people who are in dire need of food and hygiene essentials to survive the pandemic, Covid-19.

After the India-wide lockdown, a lot of jobless migrant workers are stuck in cities with hardly any resources while many started retreating back to their villages. With the loss of livelihoods, a large number of them are now struggling to support their families.

Goonj activated its pan India teams and a pan India network of partner organizations and volunteers in urban and rural India. This network, built over the last two decades, helps them learn from the ground, reach material quickly and review and adapt strategy periodically. Intensifying this network has helped Goonj reach and start work across 17produced states/UT in the last three weeks.
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Goonj’s focus: 

Majority of the Covid-19 relief work by non profits right now is in the metros and cities but Goonj is the only non profit that is also simultaneously focusing on the people in the villages and the ones stuck on highways or somewhere.

Goonj is targeting daily wagers, migrants and other vulnerable groups, who even traditionally are left out like the disabled, sex workers, LGBTQ community.

“COVID-19 is a crisis, yes…But, it’s also an opportunity for us to build the society anew. Not ‘for’ the people…but, ‘with’ the people. And in the process, we will build ourselves too.” – Anshu Gupta, Founder-Director, Goonj.

Direct Monetary and Material Transfer

Wherever Goonj got the permission to open their centres for packing and disbursement of relief material kits, they are creating a kit consisting of 20-30 kgs material including dry rations, masks, sanitary pads and other hygiene material and reaching them to people, as per needs and as per regulations with all safety precautions. This kit will help a family survive for 30 days.

Information till 10th April 2020:

  • Distributed 15,100 ration kits reaching thousands of people
  • Reached 17,700 families
  • Supporting 12 community kitchen across India with 16,600kgs of ration
  • 77,800 food packets provided to migrant laborers and daily wagers walking on the roads across the country.
  • Provided direct financial support to 32 organisations
  • Made 42,800 cloth face masks
  • 24,900 cloth sanitary napkins produced
  • Produced 1500 litres of organic sanitiser

In Goonj’s processing centers its trained team of women are making cloth face masks and cloth sanitary pads (MY-Pads), keeping all the precautions and with the permission and cooperation of the local authorities.

In this lock-down phase if you are facing any difficulty getting sanitary pads or you are running out of stock, here’s a detailed but very simple process of making Cloth Pads at home created by Goonj. “This is how we make Goonj MY Pads.” This is how our mothers and grandmothers turned their spare cloth into pads.

This disaster, unlike any other, is unprecedented in its scale and impact and that’s why we all must do our bit with Goonj to continue its relief work for millions of people in this still unfolding long-tailed disaster.

The need is huge.. We are there.. Need You too !!

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It's not how much we give
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- Mother Theresa Quote
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