Rhea Singhal was 19 years old when her mother was first diagnosed with breast cancer. By the time the disease struck a second time, the entire family had changed their lifestyles, given up plastics and switched to an organic diet.
Brought up in Dubai and London, the young pharmacologist also resolved to do something about India’s addiction to plastic.
Giving up a lucrative career in the UK, where she had handled brand launches for Pfizer’s oncology portfolio, Rhea and her ex-banker husband Nishant moved to India in 2009. Shocked by the indifference to waste disposal and the lack of dustbins in public areas, she came up with Ecoware, a range of 100% biodegradable disposables.
Since her family had been in the sugar industry for long and Rhea had access to sugar mills, she worked out a way to use agricultural waste such as sugarcane bagasse to make tableware, birchwood to make cutlery, and cornstarch-based biodegradant to make garbage bags.
Over the next few years, she worked diligently to tie up with food chains such as Haldirams and Cinnabon, cinemas, offices and schools along with the export market and retail outlets online and offline. Affordably priced and USDA-certified, her products soon found 25 wholesale distributors to supply to the smallest of towns and the largest of metros.
Ecoware can resist temperatures from -20° to 180°C, so it is safe to freeze, bake and microwave. After disposal, it turns to compost in 90 days. There is no plastic coating or lining, and – unlike paper – no trees are cut in the process. The products are bleached white using chemical-free methods, and can be customized in bulk on request.
Hailing from a ‘foodie’ family, the 36-year-old Rhea wants to create awareness about living close to nature, and she’s leading by example. Her home is almost plastic-free – the family uses bamboo toothbrushes and wooden moodas instead of plastic stools.
They use only glass containers to store food, and segregate, compost and recycle all waste. “We cannot control our genetic factors but we are 100% in control of our lifestyle choices,” says the eco-warrior.
Buy on: Amazon.in, Ecoware.in