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Households are producing up to 50 percent more waste during the pandemic.
And a lot of that waste is plastic.
But it doesn’t have to be.
What if all that packaging could be made with material that otherwise goes unused?
What if it could safely biodegrade in your backyard in 90 days?
That’s what Rhea Mazumdar Singhal envisions. And she’s already making it a reality.
In 2009, she moved to India and noticed that plastic was everywhere…
...and that there was no formal waste segregation at the time.
So a year later, she founded Ecoware, which manufactures single-use, disposable products from agricultural waste.
“I wanted to create a healthier alternative, something that didn’t end up in a landfill.”
– Rhea Mazumdar Singhal
Ecoware focuses on three kinds of impact.
Job creation and benefits for women and formerly low-income workers.
–Of Ecoware’s 120 employees, 90 were previously low-income and 30 percent are women.
–In 2019, Ecoware displaced 50 million pieces of plastic.
Eliminating the health effects of exposure to microplastics.
–Americans ingest up to 74,000 microplastic particles every year.
Ecoware has been independently audited on ESG parameters, and achieves $2.41 of impact for every $1 invested.
And it all comes from a circular economy model, where no waste is produced.
“Sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand. You can use your business to be the platform for change.”
And that didn’t change when the COVID-19 epidemic swept the world.
In fact, it made Ecoware’s mission even more crucial.
Single-use products are key to reducing cross-infection.
The problem is that they’re often made out of plastic.
Rhea knows Ecoware can change that.
“There are no limits to the applications. We can support e-commerce, industrial packaging, the medical industry, in reducing their plastic footprint and the risk of cross-infection.”
Ecoware’s mission is vital not only to pandemic response, but to the health of the planet.
“You cannot hide from climate change. But people have got to be genuine about their commitment [to fighting it].”
Genuine commitment, to Rhea, means infusing every business decision with intention.
“I wanted to create a product that shaped our lives and altered the future. And I wanted to make sure that there was impact in everything that we do.”
Altering the future, it turns out, hasn’t always been easy.
“Being an entrepreneur can be quite lonely. You’re chipping away quietly at something.”
But Rhea has learned recently that she’s not alone at all.
Last year, she joined Unreasonable Impact, a partnership between Barclays and Unreasonable Group.
And more recently, she received an Unreasonable Impact COVID-19 Response grant.
It’ll help her continue to branch out into the medical and health field.
It’s also made her a little less lonely.
“Everyone at Unreasonable Impact is so genuine, and the support and sense of community is amazing. It runs through the veins of the program.”
And the group philosophy has validated the ideas that felt so ambitious to Rhea, just 10 years ago.
“You need to be unreasonable to be a successful entrepreneur. If you think differently with good intentions, you will always create impact.”
– Rhea Mazumdar Singhal