A University of Cambridge alumna with a background in environmental policy, Sahar Mansoor is the Founder and CEO of Bare Necessities, a social enterprise that produces zero-waste personal and lifestyle products. She is the recipient of multiple awards for her work and most recently, became a Climate Reality Leader, having received the Climate Reality training from Al Gore. We catch up with Sahar to learn a little bit more about her life and philosophy.
What does zero-waste living mean?
Sounds like a pretty crazy concept right? Let me break it down for you! To me, it means a lifestyle that is rooted in a cradle-to-cradle philosophy, which considers the entire life cycle of the product.
Zero waste re-images redesign of resources, that makes circular economy possible!
Zero waste emulates sustainable natural life cycles
Zero waste doesn’t send trash to incinerators or landfills
Zero waste supports community health and justice
What was the hardest part about transitioning to this lifestyle?
Some of the challenges I experienced were; the difficulty in articulating what zero waste lifestyle means. Why was I doing it? Why was I carrying my own mug for coffee or my own box for street-side momos? I was finding it hard to find high-quality products that I trusted, that were chemical-free and plastic-free. If these products were available they were hard to access or too expensive.
What are surprising areas that actually produce a lot of waste that can be avoided?
Personal care routines and personal lifestyle! This is something we have complete control over because it’s our own routines and the changes are independent of what’s happening around us. Change starts from within, first, and only then can we transition to bigger change!
“Over 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes are produced every year worldwide! Each of us will use 300 toothbrushes during our lifetime. Over 99% of which are made up of plastic and will end up in our landfills, and oceans.”
This stat is just an example to show that we have the power to make small incremental changes to avoid a ton of waste generated in the long term. Additionally, many of our personal care products are packaged in single-use plastic tubes infused with chemicals.
Just think about it, and look around your personal space, and you’ll see there are so many changes you can make and decrease your waste footprint drastically. Through personal care routines, or lifestyle changes which consist of stainless steel straws or reusable cutlery, or reusable water bottles.
How has this journey impacted the way you see the world and live your life?
The thing about trash is that we are so caught up in this web of convenience that we don’t think about our personal trash and often attribute it to a larger global problem that we have no control over. The only time we think about trash is when we see or smell it stinking up our neighborhood. The truth is that our trash problem is much worse than that—for our environment and our health. Amy Korst rightly said, “Trash is intimately connected to every environmental problem we face today, from climate change and habitat destruction to water pollution and chemical exposure. It’s also intensely personal and impacts every decision in our daily lives, including everything from how much money we spend to how much weight we gain.”
We are subjects of this urbanization-globalization era and we are so caught up in this web of convenience that we don’t think about how a plastic water bottle that we use for five minutes will take 700 years to start decomposing.
With all this said, what we must realize is that we all learn differently, and through different avenues. Different people around us need to be communicated with on a personal level with a thorough understanding. Forcing a lifestyle on someone is definitely not the way because it simply backfires and makes you an outcast. There is that cliche saying, yet so powerful, actions speak louder than words. This is what I believe in. I believe in being authentic to myself, and genuine with my actions. I’ll make the change in my own lifestyle, raise awareness and so on and those around me will change as well.
Before you go...
What is a daily ritual you have?
My mornings are sacred. I try not to use my cell phone from 6 am to 10 am. I wake up at 6 am I work out followed by yoga, strength training, and football drills online with my community of badass women called Sisters in Sweat. I make myself a smoothie bowl or a moong dal dosa while listening to my favorite podcast (How I Build This - unpacking stories behind some of the world's best-known companies; weaving a personal narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists—and the movements they built.), shower, meditate and then start my work day!
Three words to describe yourself?
Optimist. Curious. Sustainability Nerd.
What is your ideal workspace?
Bare Necessities HQ, big windows, amidst a garden.
One message you'd like to share with the world?
Take time for yourself! Re-fuel your mind and body at this time.
Something positive you've experienced during quarantine?
Slowing down and reflecting on things that truly matter, focusing on the basics, spending time with people I love (I've been FaceTiming with my mum and sisters daily!), sleeping eight glorious hours every night and I have had more time to work on myself and make space for deepening awareness and consciousness.