Sahar Mansoor brings a 500 gram jar of waste to every sustainability workshop that she conducts. This is all the waste that the Bangalore-based author and founder of Bare Necessities has produced in the last five years. The multi-faceted Mansoor has a business centred around zero-waste personal care, lifestyle, home care and educational products and services, including online sustainability courses. We visited Mansoor's studio in Bangalore and spoke about everything from her journey with Bare Necessities to zero-waste hacks to advice on our own packaging.
Text: Natasha Mehta | Photography: Sabiha Taskin | Stylist & HMU: Tasneem Rawther
Pictured above Sahar wears Kinetic Rosalia Chandelier Earring, Celestial Record Pendant Necklace, Cosmic Conjunction Necklace, Time Loop Toggle Bracelet, Night of the Blue Moon Small Charm with Lock, Lava Drip Charm with Lock and Donna Paula Heart Charm Pendant with Lock, Mist Pearl Petal Choker. Sculptural Odi V Ring
Sun sign: Taurus
Profession: I am an environmental entrepreneur
City you live in: Bangalore
If not Bare necessities, you would be: Working in the solar energy space
Your Current Favourite....
Beauty products: My Bare Necessities Basil Rosemary Spa Bar
Self-care rituals: Unplugging on weekends
Instagram handles: @saharmansoor | @barenecessities_zerowasteindia
Podcasts: How I built this by Guy Raz
Films or TV series: Currently The Bold Type
A favourite recipe: My coffee peanut butter smoothie bowl
- 1 generous tablespoon of peanut butter
- 1 chopped banana
- 1 or 2 pitted dates
- 1 cup coconut milk (or almond or oats milk)
- 1 espresso shot/cup of coffee
- 2 or 3 ice cubes (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of hemp protein (optional)
- A pinch of cinnamon
Blend all ingredients well. Serve in a bowl. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, halim seeds, flaxseeds and granola.
Pictured above: Sahar wears Sculptural Odi Wiggly ring, Moondrop Seed Pearl ring, Homecoming Mini Vase of Plenty ring, Time Loop Toggle bracelet, Sky Wave bangle
A book you <3: Bossypants by Tina Fey (chill) / Soil not Oil by Vandana Shiva (serious)
Links, communities or resources for zero waste information in India: I'd say my latest book is a one-stop-shop. Also, listen to the solutions by entrepreneurs in this space.
How would you describe your personal sense of style? Minimalist
What's the most special piece of jewellery or clothing in your closet and why?
My mama’s hand-me-down, gold and white pearl earrings—the only jewellery that I find myself gravitating to. Beyond its intricate, traditional design, these earrings have a special story that I was unaware of until recently. They were the first piece of jewellery that her mama bought for herself with her own money.
What first comes to your mind when you think of Lune?
Gorgeous waves that clothe mama-earth and dance to her moonlight.
Pictured above: Sahar wears Time Loop Toggle Bracelet with Night of the Blue Moon Small Charm with Lock, Lava Drip Charm with Lock and Donna Paula Heart Charm pendant with Lock, Essential Transit Thick Gold Cuff.
Earth Day Edit
How did you start your zero waste journey?
I felt overwhelmed with India’s trash problem. I was confronted by it every day—seeing piles of garbage on the streets. I spent time with local waste pickers and watched them sort through it with their bare hands. I started to think of the environmental, health and social justice issues associated with our garbage problem. My solution was to live a lifestyle that best reflects the values I cared about. I had studied environmental policy at the University of Cambridge and had worked at the World Health Organisation, but I decided I needed to live a life fully congruent to my environmental and social justice values. I knew I had to start living a zero waste lifestyle. I have been living a zero waste lifestyle for five years now. In this time, all my trash fits in a 500 gram jar.
In my zero waste journey, I realised that it was impossible to find personal care and home care products that didn’t contain harmful chemicals and weren’t packaged in plastic.
In response to this problem, I wanted to create a company that mirrored the values of ethical consumption and sustainability. I wanted to make it easy for people looking to consume more mindfully and to encourage others to produce less waste. And so, Bare Necessities was born.
Pictured above: Sahar wears Speed U-pin Huggies with Lava Drip Charm, Essential Axis Choker, Time Loop Toggle Chain with Night of the Blue Moon Small Charm with Lock, Lava Drip Charm with Lock and Donna Paula Heart Charm Pendant with Lock, Homecoming Rosalia Rose Motif Pearl necklace, Sky Wave Bangle, Sculptural Odi Wiggly ring, Moondrop Seed Pearl ring, Homecoming Mini Vase of Plenty ring
Congratulations on your new book. How would you describe it in a nutshell?
Bare Necessities is your one-stop guide on how to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle in India. Filled with activities, insights, recipes, tips and how-to guides, it is a must-read for anyone wanting to make a positive change in their life and the environment
Could you share a few zero waste hacks for people during lockdown?
- Compost your food waste.
- Make your own bio-enzymes using orange peels and food scraps from your kitchen.
- Use a menstrual cup.
How can we make sustainability more inclusive?
- By talking about environmental externalities.
- Always asking the ‘true cost’ of your clothing or personal care products.
- Advocating to formalise informal waste-picking communities.
- Advocating for environmental and social justice in all that we do.
- Creating educational content in vernacular languages to ensure everyone is included in reimagining a better tomorrow.
How has the post-Covid era affected or helped your journey?
Honestly, I think the first week I was overwhelmed. I went into serious planning mode and re-worked all our budgets, drew up various worst case scenarios and took a deep dive into our financial health. I also started thinking of ways in which we could support our community, our customers, my team and our partners.
After my crazy planning week, I am doing well. I am slowing down and introspecting on what truly matters. I'm finding new routines, filling my day with books and podcasts, Facetiming friends and family and maintaining a gratitude journal.
Pictured above: Sahar wears Time Loop Toggle Bracelet, Sky Wave Bangle, Moon Drop Seed Pearl ring, Homecoming Mini Vase of Plenty ring, Sculptural Odi Wiggly ring.
What is your favourite platform to educate India about sustainability? What are the hurdles in educating people?
Bare Learning! (laughs) I love Down To Earth by the Centre for Science and Environment, headed by Sunita Narain
How long did it take you to integrate zero waste in your lifestyle?
It’s a work-in-progress. I made drastic changes 2015 and 2016, though.
What's your advice to someone who's just begun their zero waste journey?
Align your daily (consumption) choices with your values.
What does India’s future on this journey look like with constant lockdowns and the waste from masks , kits and takeouts?
Return to refill, reuse models, like our Mumbai dabbawallas. Remember our returnable glass soft drink bottles in exchange for 5 paise? I reckon, they are all going to make a comeback, with small businesses at the forefront of this innovation.
This is a tricky question, but do you have any packaging advice for independent e-commerce businesses like Lune?
Experiment and get creative. Use paper tape, corrugated cardboard, unbleached paper, recycled paper, cloth scraps, seaweed and mycelium if you have access to it.
Can the zero waste movement survive coronavirus? How complicated is it?
I think this time is incubating some of the most important and innovative solutions of our time—ones that are re-imagining a greener, more sustainable and just world.
The future is…