Making Sustainability Affordable: Akshata Bhandranna, Founder Dopolgy
After having moved to India recently and living for 28 years of their life without caring for the environment, just like many of us, Akshata Bhandranna and her husband Rahul Pagad planned to change their lifestyle by replacing all plastic products from their lives. “Small changes can make a big difference,” says Akshata, who aims to change the world for a better tomorrow. As it is not easy to completely remove plastic from one’s life completely, she aimed for small changes starting with, refusing plastic bags at shops and recycling pet bottles. “We decided to make our home plastic free – We switched every plastic to steel/glass, recycled and did compost at home. It amazed us. From throwing waste every day to throwing it once a week/2 weeks,” said Akshata. From here the journey of these Eco-warriors began.
A shift towards entrepreneurship
Everyday thinking about the environment before anything else and being sensitive towards it is quite difficult. But this couple has proven that it takes a small initial effort to change your lifestyle for good. They started their entrepreneur journey with Newspaper pencils (they manufacture pencils made from old newspapers) through Dopolgy their online retail service in 2016. “Newspaper pencils caught our attention. If you see, pencils have been a part of every individual’s life, which we use carelessly without thinking twice. That’s why we start manufacturing Newspaper pencils as an alternative and bring them to the masses at affordable costs,” said Akshata. Their main aim at Dopolgy is to keep costs low and affordable so that more and more people can be convinced to go Eco-friendly.
Talking about this quirky name they said, “We wanted a name that would generate curiosity and make people come to talk to us. At the same time, we wanted a name that is more a continuous path- of studying or living an Eco-friendly way- more like ecology or biology,” said Akshata.
Challenges they faced and public attitude towards environment
Initial sourcing was a difficult task as they wanted to keep the manufacturing and processing cost at a minimum level so that the product could be sold at a cheaper price. Clearly, big manufacturers weren’t making this any easier for them. “The biggest hurdle is for the manufacturers to communicate with us, they either thought we were too small or that we were too rigid on the things we wanted. We have to let go of vendors because they refused to send us products plastic free.”
But if you want something passionately, the universe will definitely help you. Similarly, mentioning the efforts by one of their vendor Ashutosh, Akshata said, “Manufacturing is a different ball game and we like this better. The initial challenges were figuring the right and good quality raw materials. I have to mention Ashutosh, one of our vendor who was an angel and helped us through the process of setting up.”
The most difficult task for these Eco-warriors was to convince the public around them to shift their focus from convenient yet hazardous plastic products to more Eco-friendly and recyclable products. “We try to remind them that conscious is bigger than convenience and we need to do this for the generations to come and for ourselves too if not for nature,” she said.
More Eco-products for the awareness campaign
Starting from an online retail service, the Dopolgy team plans to create their own offline presence where “people could come and be inspired to turn their hearts and lives green.” Their main focus is on creating impact, sensitising more people, rather than selling their product. For that “Events, social media, were our initial channels and now slowly we are transitioning to work with schools and organisations to make them aware and inspire them to make the switch, “she said. They are conducting workshops and discussion with school children to turn them into Eco-warriors.
Apart from stationery products like – Newspaper pencil, Colour pencils, postcards, etc, you can also find Bamboo toothbrushes and Bees Wax Wraps at Dopolgy. Now they are even planning to introduce steel straws and products made from recycled plastic.
Making a small difference together
The constant increase in global warming and the changing of climate at an alarming rate is a signal to stop before it’s too late. From the melting of ice caps to drought around us, we can see the impact of climate change around us. We are not just destroying human species; we are also risking the life of other living beings. With our small efforts on day to day basis, we all can make a difference together. Start from carrying own cloth bags for shopping, refuse plastic straws, carry your own water bottle instead of buying use and throw bottles and recycle as much as you can. Making these small efforts will surely make an impact in the long run. As Akshata says, “All it takes is one small change.”
Divya Tripathi is an intern with SheThePeople.TV