Nearly 40 per cent of the plastic that ends up in the environment is single-use packaging waste from consumer products – including personal and home care essentials. Over the past few decades, most of these products have evolved into liquid and semi-liquid forms, predominantly for convenience. And for these forms, plastic becomes the easiest choice of packaging material because it provides perfect moisture barrier in addition to being so durable and cheap. Simple examples include shampoo bottles, facewash tubes, liquid detergent bottles etc. One may argue that glass and metal are options as well, but they are even more resource intensive and easily subject to damage.
Arani Ecosteps, founded by Gauri Gupta and Shivraj Negi in early 2021 decided to solve this ‘packaging’ problem by redesigning the ‘product’. Simply put, to get rid of the plastic, they got rid of the water! By developing water-less concentrates for a wide range of personal and home care essentials, they have helped save nearly 55,000 pieces of plastic weighing more than 600kg – and they are just getting started.
Consumers are increasingly seeking more sustainable solutions – and packaging is just one aspect. There is also growing recognition of complex (and sometimes toxic) ingredients in commercial products which are added to extend shelf lives. Water-less formulations have a key advantage that they can bypass a host of preservatives and stabilizers that are essential for liquids. To that effect, Arani’s products are very gentle, comprising only the necessary cleansing and nourishing agents, strictly plant based. So, in addition to being safer for consumption, they are also kind to the environment they eventually drain into. Removing water also reduces the product’s carbon footprint significantly – after all, why should we ship tonnes of water over thousands of kilometres?
Consumer participation has been the key driving force from the past year for Gauri and Shivraj. "It is extremely heartening to see that in a world chasing convenience at any cost, there is a beautiful and growing community that insists on conscious consumption even if they have to adjust their daily habits. Our consumers are our biggest inspiration!”
And truly, the power of collective action cannot be underestimated. As our institutions do their share on the regulatory front, our individual choices will define the world we want our children to inherit. The decision has always been ours, and we now need to make it quickly – what do we choose? Planet or Plastic?
More and more customers are realising the importance of switching to products that are trying to eliminate the use of plastic and saving the environment. Consumers are always going to need products like shampoos, dishwashing liquids, toothpastes, face washes etc- all of which come in plastic packaging. In the same way, consumers always need water, and packaged water is sold everyday globally in volumes of millions!
So where does the solution lie? No one can stop using these essential products, but brands like Arani ecosteps have come up with an innovative way to redesign personal and homecare products without the use of plastic. Founded by Gauri Gupta and Shivraj Negi, Arani has already saved 550kgs of plastic and counting. The background of both of them which is product development and management of sales helped Arani become what it is today.
When products are packed, depending on what they are, they go through different types of packaging like primary, secondary and tertiary. Primary packaging is usually how shampoos, face washes and toothpastes are packed. The secondary packaging is the additional layer which brands use for protection, aesthetics and labelling. And, the tertiary packaging is what is used for shipping consignments and usually by e-commerce companies.
As stated, the essentials come in primary packaging where the product is in direct touch with the packaging. Primary packaging is the first barrier to the external environment. That is what defines whether the product has the correct heat layers, moisture barriers etc. Over the years, for the convenience of people, most of the products are being manufactured as liquids or semi liquids because of which the primary packaging is plastic. These products have to sustain long supply chains and have to be on the shelves for many days, and plastic gives the brands the durability, affordability they need. From a brand’s perspective, it is the correct choice, but from the environment point of view- not so much.
In order to address the primary packaging issue, Arani Ecosteps realised that they needed to change the product inside to eliminate the use of plastic. Hence, the firm started to redesign the products with minimum or no use of plastic. The products are innovative and unique but there is no compromise on quality. Some of the products include face wash, shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets (that melt in your mouth), handwash, liquid dishwashers, etc.