The Zero Heroes: Winning with Waste

Ecoposro

3. Good Health and Well-Being 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

A Zero Waste store moves beyond banning plastic bags or charging a price for them: it actively works to eliminate the use of plastic and other packaging material right from the source. This is done by selling products loose, rather than as individually packed items.

This, in a nutshell, is the Ecoposro business model, and this is how they are making waves in society.

Authors

Carla Martins

Carla Martins

Christina Fernandes

Christina Fernandes

Lohith Kumar

Lohith Kumar

Giselle Colaco

Giselle Colaco

Pranav Panyam

Pranav Panyam

School

Goa Institute of Management

Goa Institute of Management

Professor

DIVYA SINGHAL

DIVYA SINGHAL

Innovation

“If you live a Zero Waste lifestyle, you bypass the need for waste management, because you’re not generating waste in the first place”

While most stores are working on efficient waste management, Ecoposro jumped the queue and introduced the concept of a Zero Waste Store, the first of its kind in Goa. By buying and selling all their products without any plastic packaging, Ecoposro almost entirely eliminates the consumption of waste in the first place.

Customers are required to bring along their own reusable containers in order to buy products. This also helps limit one's purchase quantity: the consumer can measure and purchase exactly how much is required instead of having to buy - and sometimes waste - the pre-packed quantity.

To ensure their method is foolproof, Ecoposro has had to connect with small-scale vendors and manufacturers. Establishing direct communication with their vendors is essential - they make every purchase on their own, taking along their own containers. Moreover, it was a challenge to convince the large-scale vendors to switch their methods of production and packaging solely for their cause.

The Zero Heroes: Winning with Waste

Inspiration

“All the places we enjoyed hanging out in as kids have turned into dumpyards today.”

This was the biggest motivation behind the setup of Ecoposro. Both the founders – Eldridge and Jonah – are childhood friends from the same neighbourhood and had a bitter pill to swallow. Their fond memories had gone to the dumps, quite literally.

In a bid to restore these spots, they initiated clean-up drives, that had but a temporary effect – they always returned to a dumpyard once again, no matter how clean they’d leave it behind.

The second underlying factor behind the motivation for Ecoposro was Eldridge’s primary job. Being a restaurateur, he became aware of the amount of non-biodegradable waste his restaurant was generating.

Like any kind of global change, the duo believed that this too had to come from within. They themselves started to adopt Zero Waste lifestyles, and were keen to introduce the concept to as many people as they could.

The idea came to life with a shelf in Eldridge’s restaurant, where they kept for sale edible items without the plastic packaging. The positive reaction to this helped them realise the potential demand for zero waste products, which helped them take the final step in opening up their own physical space in March 2018.

“When we decided to go zero-waste, we realized how difficult it was to discard plastic packaging and procure quality goods. If we needed ten items without plastic, we had to visit five different stores – which motivated us to launch our own zero waste store.”

Overall impact

The biggest evidence was the change in the duo’s personal lives. From generating one garbage can a week to one garbage can a month, they realised the world of difference adopting a zero waste lifestyle made. If two households could make a 75% reduction in their waste consumption and disposal, then so could many more, making the city largely waste-free.

With the novel concept of Zero Waste and the wide range of products offered, Ecoposro has grown rather rapidly within the year. Ecoposro has also impacted the lives of the small-scale vendors who partner with it: they have started employing single-use plastic in their own business. And finally, the Parra village too, has seen a number of organic stores – inspired by Ecoposro – in and around it.

These positive reviews have only fuelled the motivation of founders, Jonah and Eldridge to branch out and open more stores soon.

The ultimate, desired evidence, of course, is the positive impact on the environment, though it’s still early stages in the business to properly ascertain this. They are, however, determined to pass this on far and wide enough to make it a national, and eventually, global trend – Zero Waste Shopping becomes a norm.

Business benefit

Ecoposro’s journey from a mere store without packaging to Parra’s favourite organic store has been an overwhelming one. The initial positive reactions by customers encouraged them to experiment by introducing new products every now and then – far more than they had originally intended to. The current range of products at Ecoposro is a mix of in-house and sourced products – groceries, soaps, pickles, t-shirts manufactured by companies following standards of organic, fair trade and vegan clothing, cosmetics, toiletries, detergents, to name just a few. These products were introduced based on observed demand and the personal needs of the founders themselves.

All their products undergo quality checks – i.e. ensuring they come from a single-use plastic if sourced.

Careful steps have been followed in order to keep the pricing customer-friendly. Ecoposro follows a 20-25% profit margin on its products, since their focus is more on the social cause, and also because they want to reach out to more people and avoid being part of a niche market.

Future plans? That’s all they can think of!

Ecoposro being a passion project of the two – they have their own primary day jobs for their living – has shown massive potential to taking over and becoming their primary source of living in the past year and a half.

Within a year of setting up the first store, they set up a second one, and the third one is currently in the works.

However, the duo is not out to let time and space constraints hinder their growth. They have tied up with multiple stores around the city and set up ‘Zero Waste pickup counters’ with their products in the exclusive special packaging.

Ecoposro is travelling on an upward trajectory of growth, and they’re all set to reach out to a wider audience locally, nationally and globally.

Social and environmental benefit

The obvious environmental benefit is, of course, reducing plastic waste – and indeed, waste altogether. Right from procuring raw material to delivering the final goods to the customers, and even in the founders’ personal lives, a strict zero-waste policy is followed. For transportation, they use reusable bags, products are stored in glass bottles on shelves, and customers are encouraged to carry their own cloth or paper bags.

Moreover, the second Ecoposro store has been set up a Centre for Special Needs, employing the people there for their business, and thus imparting life skills to them. This has thus created a dual benefit.

Ecoposro has helped the founders uncover the latent demand – and instil where there was none – for zero-waste consumption and shopping. People are readily switching to zero waste lifestyles, showing signs of a positive future.

Interviews

Jonah Fernandes, Co- founder

Eldridge Lobo, Co- founder

Keep this story going! Share below!

Ecoposro

Ecoposro

PARRA, GOA, IN

Business Website: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Grocery-Store/Ecoposro-405986196489724/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

A Zero Waste store moves beyond banning plastic bags or charging a price for them: it actively works to eliminate the use of plastic and other packaging material right from the source. This is done by selling products loose, rather than as individually packed items.

This, in a nutshell, is the Ecoposro business model, and this is how they are making waves in society.