Have I always had a passion for all things nature? Yes. Have I always cared for nature the way I should? Sadly, no. Most of us have been hypocritical at one point or another. I’ve always been fortunate enough to enjoy nature and its abundance to the fullest – go for treks on the hills, spend days in farms, watch sunsets at the beach, go for vacations up in the mountains. So here is our environment giving us so much. What are we giving it?

Back when I was in school and college, I found time to participate in tree plantation drives, area clean ups, volunteer activities at NGOs and other ways in which I was able to give back a little to our planet. As I got older, rigorous class schedules gave way to an even more hectic work schedules during my advertising agency job in Mumbai. Leisure time became scarce and I wasn’t doing as much as I would’ve liked.

Rice farming at Nanegaon
Helping out at the rice farm at Nanegaon

After a few years in Mumbai, I made the shift to Bangalore where working in an ad agency meant that you could still have a life. I found time to indulge my love for the outdoors once again. Visits to the nursery nearby my office became a weekly affair and trying to make these plants survive became a determination. For those of you who believe gardening is easy, it’s not. Growing your own food is even harder and I will cover this topic in a later article.

After quitting the job life, I then went on to becoming an entrepreneur, a hobby entrepreneur would be a better word because I was really just dabbling in an interest and hoping to dig my career roots in Pune, where I was born and raised and where I had now returned to. In early 2013, a chat with Shweta, my childhood friend and then business partner, led to the founding of Green OK Please, version 2.0.

I’ll admit, at first it was about everything but the environment – initial funding, business registration, website development, web design, suppliers, terms and conditions, the list goes on. Whether Green OK Please was going to do good work as a platform was only going to be seen later. Six months had passed and we finally launched the ecommerce website on the 15th of December of 2013.

Initially, orders were few and points of feedback were many. Eager new buyers called to check up on when their products would reach, wellness enthusiasts called to enquire about various products. While some called to tell us how overjoyed they were with our website, yet others called to complain about the lack of availability of these products in their cities.

It was a conversation with a customer from Bangalore that nudged me forward into this journey of personal change. After almost 25 minutes of queries, feedback and a discussion about this Brahmin gentleman’s vegetarianism and his contempt for meat eaters, he asked me if I was vegan. Considering that I run an environmental business, he had taken the liberty to assume this. I was dumbfounded. And I lied. Let alone vegan, I’m not even close to being vegetarian.

So, I enjoy meat and dairy. Does this really make my good work redundant? There had to be other ways to contribute to the betterment of the environment. I refuse to let my being a non-vegetarian shove me into that stereotype. I can honestly say that the past few years have been a wonderful journey of learning about the earth and its gifts and discovering a fair bit about myself.

In my subsequent posts, I will unravel my journey bit by bit. From composting my wet waste, to recycling the dry waste, from organic food to chemical free personal care products, from refusing to buy new clothes to giving away all that are not ethically sourced, I have continually been striving to make changes in my own consumption patterns and also hoping to gradually influence those around me. Stay tuned!