We caught up with Scrapless App’s Marketing Director, Shamika about her zero food-waste journey: from Mumbai to Vancouver
What is your ethnic and professional background?
I am a marketing and communication professional from India and I have spent close to 5+ years in this profession working for various ad agencies and brands like Ogilvy, Bajaj Finserv to name a few in India and Canada.
Can you tell me a bit about your startup? How did it come about?
We at Scrapless are a food discovery and redistribution platform which connects people with businesses that have surplus food. We help food businesses reduce their food waste and promote their products on our platform. Foodies on a budget get food they love at a reduced price.
Which groups of people have shown most interest in your startup so far?
We have an equal mix of client and businesses who have shown interest in our start up from large grocers to individual restaurants, influencers who promote food and sustainable living.
What inspired you to act as a catalyst for sustainable practice? Is there a particular story you can share?
I have always been inspired by Ms. Sudha Murthy, a well-known Indian philanthropist who has dedicated her life to help people who are less fortunate. She always abided by the principle that just because one has something in excess does not mean they should waste it, but always think about ways to help others who are not so lucky. This learning is what cultivated the thought of sustainable living in me. It made me realize that if we make small but important changes in our lifestyle by doing simple things, we can help create an eco-friendly planet for us and our future generations.
Being South Asian, did you face any backlash about your sustainable business career choice from family, friends or society at large? (Please feel free to share any relevant experiences)
I have received extensive support from my friends & family and they in fact now understand the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle and are too trying to do their bit for the environment.
How have you actively changed your daily practice to be more sustainable?
I have adopted simple practices like using more eco-friendly products, and have reduced the usage of electronic appliances that require a lot of electricity or water. For example, air drying my hair instead of using a hair dryer. Trying to reduce the use of a dishwasher, replacing plastic with sustainable materials like using bamboo-based toothbrushes etc.
Do you feel there is a stigma or lack of understanding of the climate crisis amongst South Asian communities? What do you believe the blockers to be and how would you go about solving the issues?
Yes, there seems to be a lack of understanding when it comes to climate crises among the South Asian community and the major reason behind this is probably a lack of awareness and interest towards environmental stewardship – no one wants to go walking even if the store is nearby as we have cars at our disposal. One way to bring awareness in the minds of the people would be to have government initiatives to reduce causes that contribute to climate change and incentivize the same and also have sound education about climate change.
Being carbon conscious in a practical day-to-day sense can be quite costly – how can people easily and cost effectively make a difference? Do you think being sustainable is accessible to everyone?
Well, it can start with a step as simple as car-pooling or reduction of usage of things that are not eco-friendly. A plastic toothbrush can be replaced with a bamboo one, newspapers can be recycled into bags or bags for dry garbage, sorting garbage into dry and wet waste, buying products that can be easily reused or recycled – e.g. glass bottles for milk can be reused over and over instead of a milk carton or milk in a plastic bag.
While sustainable lifestyle is being adopted by a lot of people, I feel it is not something everyone has access to and that is the gap that needs to be filled, by helping people who need help. It can be done simply by donating goods that we don’t need to someone else who can make good use of it. Donating things to thrift stores as they stop items going to landfills by providing a space for old items to find new homes.
What advice would you give to younger generations in relation to sustainability and the environment?
The time is now, take small steps now to help save the planet because we only have one. Emphasize on the importance of environmental science at school and practice sustainable living in whatever way you can, even if it means using your older sibling’s study materials instead of buying new ones.
Can you share one life story which has deeply impacted you?
Being from Bombay India, I always loved being at the beach. I have seen beaches go from clean to being filled with some sort of waste at every step while at the beach. The beach clean up undertaken by Afroz Shah, a lawyer and an environmentalist of the Versova beach started around 2015 which had almost 5.3 million kilograms of trash before the clean up. The drive and the passion that was shown by Afroz and the team to do something for the environment was something that impacted me the most. It took him around 3 years to get the beach trash free and he did not stop until it was.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your work at Scrapless?
We are always looking for new businesses to try our platform, new connections and leaders in food to support our mission.