Eco Friend, A Zero Waste Store in Noida: Creating A Eco-Conscious Community

Eco Friend, A Zero Waste Store in Noida: Creating A Eco-Conscious Community

Eco buddy, a zero-waste store in Noida, is a father-daughter enterprise that attempts to assist customers in making tiny changes toward a plastic and harmful-chemical-free lifestyle. They seek to raise awareness to show customers that sustainable transformation benefits them as well as the environment. Every product sold at Eco Friend was first ordered for use in their own house and thoroughly examined for quality, ingredients, price, and packaging.
“The idea of a zero-waste concept store like Eco Friend occurred to me when I was pursuing a second Bachelor’s degree at The University of Sussex in Ecology, Conservation and Environment in the year 2019.”, shares the founder Kavya Singhal. She had been practising a zero-waste lifestyle since 2017 so there was no way that she was going to buy her everyday essentials from the plastic-laden stores on campus. So every weekend, she took a 30 minute bus ride, to-and-fro, to the zero waste stores in Brighton’s city centre. “I noticed how sustainable alternatives such as jute, steel and recycled paper were very expensive in the UK due to unsupportive climatic conditions and due to a rarity of large scale production setups for certain materials. And So my mind just instantly went, “why not bring this back to India?”, she shares.
She further shares, “I constantly turned to my parents for their wisdom of India before plastic. One of the things that often came up in these conversations was how it was a norm, before the advent of plastic, for people to carry large baskets or bags with them to stores and how these stores had only ropes and brown paper bags in the form of packaging. “The zero-waste stores I visited were reminiscent of my parents’ descriptions of these pre-plastic stores,'' she says.
She further says, ‘Through my course at Sussex, I also learnt how the problem at hand is so much bigger than we realise and how we don’t have a lot of time left to try and better it. And so I decided to drop out of Sussex after my first year.” Her dad is a businessman who supports his daughters endlessly. “I told him that I wanted to open a zero-waste store which provided alternatives to daily-use essentials, ranging from organic grains and cold-pressed oils to stationery and toiletries. My dad listened and jumped in on it. I had the idea and my dad materialised it into a business. He believes in my cause and he is more like my partner in the business.” she delightfully shares.
They have been faced with several challenges in the first year of their business. She shares, “My dad did not know how to build a business from scratch because he had taken over his father’s business. And I did not have any background at all in the field. So building Eco Friend from scratch has been a big learning experience for both of us.”
Another challenge for them was to convince people to invest in reusable products, such as cotton cloth instead of aluminium foil, steel straws instead of plastic straws etc. At a singular glance, these products can seem more expensive than their use-and-throw alternatives. However, they are a one-time investment, they last several years and they save money in the long term. Another challenge we face is trying to get people to break up with the convenience of plastic. She shares, “I think we value our convenience so much because we tend to measure the impact of plastic and synthetic chemicals only in terms of the damage it causes to “the environment”. We don’t realise that we depend on the environment for our survival! All the plastic we throw away comes back to us through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe.”
They received a much better response at exhibitions like The Earth Collective. People were more open to trying to change their lifestyle and learning about the little steps they could take to transform into a greener lifestyle. And that’s why continuing to participate in exhibitions is a definite part of their plan!

She gives a few tips for the audience on how to reduce waste as the following:

1. Don’t just focus on the packaging of a product! Pay attention to the ingredients added and materials used in it. Are they toxic or are they safe? Will they pollute water bodies and soil once they leave our drains? Are they biodegradable?

2. Always carry these five things along with yourself:
- A set of reusable straws and cutlery
- A reusable cup
- A water bottle
- A cloth bag
- A box for takeaways or street food You never know what may come in handy to help you avoid single-use plastic!

3. Identify the single-use products that you use regularly and find reusable alternatives for them. We
must learn to create a balance between the number of resources going into making a product vs. the number of times it is used. Reusable products always work out to be cheaper in the long run and they help to maintain that balance.

4. Have a long-sighted vision for waste. For example, skipping one plastic straw may not seem like a significant step. But think about the number of plastic straws that you would be able to avoid with a single reusable steel straw over periods of a week, a month, a year and 5 years. Also, don’t forget to factor in the environmental impact of the production of all goods including plastic products! They opened the store in Noida in April 2021 and they permanently closed it in April 2022. “We are in the process of moving online, and we are very excited about our new beginning! The plan now is to build an e-commerce website (which is already in process) and participate actively in exhibitions around Delhi/NCR.”, she concludes.