Veena Balakrishnan Making Sustainable Living Easier!

A Simple Idea for an Ample World!

In an era of strugglers trying hard to accept the ban of single-use plastic, here’s a woman who decided to cut down unwanted consumerism. From being a zero waste bride to producing zero waste products, Veena Balakrishnan, the founder of Everwards India, talks to Radhika Ramesh about her passion for the environment in its purity.


The ideology behind Everwards is simple, create as many zero-waste and environmental-friendly products as possible, spread the importance of it to people worldwide and make the globe a better place to live. Listen to Veena as she elaborates.


Sustainability is a way of living.


We have always seen the way of life our elders have led – simple, affordable and natural. Veena believes in just the same. “I was brought up in a middle-class Tamil household. We were taught to only buy things that were necessary, and to reuse and recycle old products at home in various ways. We never had the luxury of wasting. That gave me the idea to bring out something like Everwards,” says Veena. From being a fashion designing student to working in a fast fashion company, Veena knew that that life just not for her. The way her company exhausted resources made her realize that she was working against her beliefs. She took a three-month break and adopted sustainability. “Initially, when I began earning, I would buy a lot of things I simply saw and liked. When I took the break, I started cutting down on things that were least necessary to me,” she adds.


I had a zero-waste wedding.


An open-aired mandapam, food brought for around only 700 guests, using bowls made of leaves made up for a wonderful wedding. “When I expressed my thoughts about my zero-waste wedding to our parents and my husband, they were all very supportive. We cut down on electricity since it was a day wedding and open-air. We made sure to inform all our guests not to bring any gifts and instead donate the money to a charity I work for, we had only flower-decorations, we had no plastic bottles for water, and stainless steel glasses were rented. Finally we donated the leftover food to an organization willing to take them,” says Veena. The couple even decided to not hold a reception to avoid unnecessary wastage.


I like creating trends from tradition.


Veena’s transitional period of adapting to sustainability was not that easy but the elders around her always had a solution. “For example, I never realized that I could replace body wash with leftover coffee powder after extracting the coffee from it. My mother-in-law asked me to use this on my body and my face and I do that till date. The coffee scrub is a part of our sales too now,” adds Veena.


Everwards aims at sustainable transformation


Research for Everwards began in the April 2018 and the company was registered in September 2018. It has been almost two years, and Everwards supplies its products to various shops across the country including Delhi and Mumbai. The team even plans zero-waste events in Chennai upon request. “I had always wanted a social element in my profession. Once that was sorted, I started analyzing my lucrative business module. It is imperative to be able to sustain yourself as a business to give out the social message. What started as a small product-based company eventually began creating sustainable gifts for huge corporates. We are now a product and a service brand,” says Veena.


All that we create is carefully curated, tested and safe.


Sustainable products are still a novelty and a product of long processes. “We first add a list of all our everyday essentials and write down all the alternative ingredients,” further adding, “Most of them are extremely safe, I even test most of these products on myself, and I carry out simple methods to tally the expiration dates,” says the founder. From bamboo toothbrushes to 100% natural coffee scrubs and stainless steel straws to beautifully curated décor ideas for your homes; the website of Everwards sells a variety of products. “We have even got a hand-doodled planner,” adds Veena.


Veena further adds that her company makes sure to get products that are on par with off-shelf products. “Nobody needs to compromise on quality in order to change to sustainability and we make sure of it,” she affirms.


There are three ways in which we promote sustainability through products.


Veena says, “There are certain sets of products which we solely create and manufacture, there are other sets of products where we create and design but we hire rural women to manufacture. Finally, we purchase already existing sustainable products in the market and promote them through our website.”


Apart from that, Veena believes that all products need to be locally produced. “Cocoa butter and shea butter maybe good for skin but they are all imported, so we find local, alternative ingredients that are equally good,” she says.


The story behind the sanitary napkins.


What has recently soared in popularity is their sanitary napkin. “The story of sanitary napkins is also similar. These napkins are produced by women from rural areas and we only purchase them after completely testing if the product matches our aim. They use only natural dyes in their fabric, there are no chemicals and there is only paper packaging,” says Veena.


Not everyone is concerned about sustainability


Exactly two years ago, when the company took shape, not many were concerned about sustainability. However, today many countries have created so much awareness and are actively banning single-use plastic. “In fact, those who are still not concerned about sustainability, at least talk about it as an issue today. That in itself is a good step,” says Veena.


I wish more women had the chance to flourish.


Veena feels that she is truly blessed for the financial support her family has provided for her to pursue her dreams but she feels that there are many potential and talented women out there who cannot pursue their dreams because of financial restraints. “The Government says that it has curated a lot of schemes for women and small-scale industries but they are not easily accessible. I think potential women, if given the opportunity, will flourish beautifully,” concludes Veena on a positive note.

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