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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‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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It's not how much we give
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