On International Plastic Bag Free Day, we will replace 10,000 plastic bags with our eco-friendly paper bags.
EcoAd is working hard to make cities free from plastic carrier bags whilst providing financial freedom to women from marginalised communities. We train these women to make paper bags for free and ensure they get paid a fair income for their efforts. EcoAd then sells these bags in the marketplace.
Most consumers can't comprehend that there is a real and cost effective alternative to plastic carrier bags so we make it our job to educate the market and physically go out to the streets and replace the bags for them. 80% of our consumers come back requesting for more eco-friendly bags after use.
How did the idea for EcoAd come to us?
In 2009, I was travelling from my home town, Bhopal to Pune, after my summer vacation. During that time, I was intrigued by the concept of entrepreneurship and the idea of creating something for people. I was travelling by train and I woke up in the morning and looked outside and saw tonnes of plastic at a particular station. I stopped at this station and spoke to a few people to get more of an insight into this situation. I was already aware of how bad pollution was in India and what were the adverse effects of plastic to the overall environment. I researched further on this topic and I got hooked to the idea of solving this problem. I started dreaming of cities free of plastic. Though it was a gigantic task but when you are a student, you tap into your confidence and at that time you believe everything is possible and that is how I got started into tackling such a large scale problem.
How does EcoAd work?
We want to make cities free from plastic carrier bags because they contribute to 80% of the total plastic waste in India. These are predominantly used in local retail stores where you go and buy something and at checkout you get a plastic bag for free. There are so many bags out there that the numbers are really staggering. What we’re trying to do is provide affordable alternatives to plastic carrier bags which are eco-friendly bags created out of used newspapers and can carry from 1kg – 10kg of weight in their different variations. They can used for up to 60 cycles of use. All these bags are hand-made and we take raw materials including used newspapers, industry waste which would regularly end up being wasted. These are created through a special process. We employ and train women from marginalised communities to make these bags and we only employ women because when they start earning, it elevates their social status and instils confidence.
Whenever we get a chance, we go out to the streets, talk to people who are using plastic, converse with them about environmental-friendly options and exchange their plastic bag with our eco-friendly newspaper-bags. This way we are able to financially support women who are making these bags and prove to people that newspaper Bags are a great alternative to plastic. We are confident that soon with our efforts and your support these bags will be in trend and we'll be able to replace 140 million paper bags and help 8,000 marginalised women to become financially independent in the next 3 years.
Note: We are not cutting trees to make our paper bags, in fact we use recycled materials to make the bags.
Our Bags are 100% handmade!
We encourage others to copy our model for free. All of our knowledge and content is publicly available because we would not be able to solve this problem on our own. We have received over 200 enquiries from across India to replicate our model. In fact, there are already people who have started and there are also people who have reached their first few milestones e.g. securing their first customers. We don’t see these people as competitors as what we’re trying to do is what they’re trying to do and we need to work together.
Our crowdfunding campaign
So far we have replaced over 6,00,000 paper bags and employed 225 women and counting. We'll replace 10,000 plastic bags on International Plastic Free Day on 3rd July. We already have a team in place to make and distribute these bags to 10,000 people and the mall owners have confirmed to support us.
We kindly request for your support to sponsor this event. We need £1,000 to distribute to 10,000 people. Help us build a greener tomorrow!
Eatsome: One of the biggest and fastest growing quick service restaurant in Pune. They have completely stopped using plastic carry bags
Farmers Market: Punest best and most famous farmer market in Pune. They have recently adopted our bags
Shashwat Organic: One of the premium organic store chain in Pune.
Art etc.: Offbeat art gallery in Pune
and many more.
EcoAd has replaced over 6,00,000 paper bags so far and created sustainable livelihood to 225 women and counting. In the process we have provided over 50,000 hours of employment at a rate of Rs. 15-18 per month, Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,500 a month. We have sold our paper bags to over 120 businesses pan India. Over 15 restaurants, 4 laundries, 3 boutiques and 6 other retail stores have completely replaced plastic bags with our eco-friendly paper bags completely.
EcoAd has been incubated at Untd India, has been recognised and awarded several times, including getting recognised in top 100 social enterprises in India by AFI, a Gov. of India initiative.
1. Expense on Paper bags: Manufacturing, Finishing, Packaging and transportation of 10,000 paper bags:
₹ 79,500.0 / £811
Majority of this expense goes to women beneficiaries directly
2. Expense on volunteers: Tshirts and caps for volunteers, day meal and transportation for 15 volunteers:
₹ 11,500.0 / £117
To make sure volunteers are comfortable and work happily :)
3. Overheads: Stationery, rent for equipment, communication etc.
₹ 6,000.0 / £ 61
We rent the equipment that we need like a camera to get great pics and send back to you.
4. Miscellaneous: Unaccounted expenses
₹1,000.0 / £10
Just to be on the safer side
₹98,000.0 / £1,000
Rohit is a engineering graduate with major in Instrumentation-and-Control from VIT, Pune 2011 batch and certificate holder in business management from SJMSOM , IIT Bombay. He founded EcoAd, a Social Enterprise back in college with less than 10$ capital. An Echoing Green Fellowship semifinalist, Rohit has been identified as one of the top 100 social innovators in India by AFI Forum (a government of india initiative) and has been awarded with various awards and scholarships for innovative work in the field of Environment Conservation, including Villgro Sankalp Scholarship. He is a Global Shaper at Pune hub and level 2 investee at Unltd India.
He has been identified and featured by various national and international media platforms including CNBC Awaaz Entrepreneur, OUTLOOK business (Good businesses), Outlook money (25 businesses under 10 lakhs), Times of India, Indian Express and Spark tour, France.
While not working he can be found Trekking, Travelling or Cooking.
Global Shaper profile: http://www.globalshapers.org/hubs/pune
Sudhir is a chemical engineer by education and carry corporate experience in marketing and engineering design. He has been involved in philanthropic activities since his early college days. Sudhir has over 4 years of experience in non-profit sector, where he has worked in projects like Atmbodh: a computer literacy project for kids at government schools, SOLE: An international project by Sugata Mitra, TED annual award winner and NSS: National Service Scheme. Sudhir has also been involved in Event Management and College Politics. He is also a part of Ecological Society of India.
When not working he can be found Exploring Nature and Meditating at the end of the world.
Swapnil Chaturvedi: Founder, Samagra Sanitation. He's a ashoka and acumen fellow ans is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation.
Anindya Chakraborty : He carries over 16 years of experience in logistics and supply chain. He's helping us with selling up a strong pan India technology aided distribution system. Currently placed in Mumbai.
Rahul Nayak: He's an IIT Bombay'07 graduate and holds 5 technology patents. He's a hobbyist photographer and graphic designer. He's helped us with our visual communications. He's my elder brother and one of the initial supporters of EcoAd.
Recognition and Listing:
Why EcoAd bags?
Our bags are made-up of reused and recyclable material. They take no electricity, toxic chemicals or electricity to make. 100% handmade, some variants can take upto 10 kgs of weight. Our bags can be reused for up-to 30 cycles.
Reused, Reusable and Recyclable bags: most eco-friendly product that you’ll ever come across
Why EcoAd only employ women?
Over time we have learned that in families at BoP, women have a far responsible spending pattern then men. Women are also found to be more sincere and quality conscious. Our are of higher quality then the machine made bags, thanks to the women who work for us!
Why EcoAd need money to take the bags to people?
We are a social enterprise and trying to beat the price of established machine made plastic carry bags. To sell bags at a competitive price to plastic and in the continuous efforts to make women earn more, we left with very less margins. We do not have a big marketing budget to take our products to more and more people, that why we need your support. I am sure you’ll be happy to help as we are creating a greener tomorrow for everyone!
We would love to hear from you: