Amrutam Nari x Sahar Mansoor

Let’s talk ‘trash’

As the world returns to a ‘new normal’, sustainability no longer remains a matter of choice. Cutting down on meat, shying away from fast fashion, and resorting to effective kitchen remedies are a few things most of us have been actively practicing. While all of these choices have contributed significantly to saving the environment, we often overlook a major problem – the one that we only notice when our neighborhood is stinking.

Yes, that’s right. It’s ‘trash’ we are talking about.

And who better than the eco-pioneer Sahar Mansoor to talk about it! An alumna of Cambridge University, with a background in environmental planning, policy, and law, Sahar is inspiring thousands to lead a low-waste, plastic-free lifestyle. Having formerly worked with the World Health Organization and SELCO Foundation, she went on to found Bare Necessities – a one-stop solution provider for zero-waste products and services.

Among her many accomplishments are being entitled as one of “Top 10 Forces of Nature” by Vogue India, “Top 8 India’s Trailblazers” by ELLE India, “Inspiring Indian of the Year” by Google India, and many, many others.

Dismantling the web of convenience

The idea of leading a natural and sustainable lifestyle came to Sahar soon after she learned about Lauren Singer, a 24-year-old living a zero-waste lifestyle in NYC. “In 2014 when I learned about Lauren, I thought to myself if Lauren can do it, I can do it, too! I am 24, too!” One simple revelation led her to think about the ‘trash problem’ more deeply.

“The thing about trash is that we are so caught up in this web of convenience that we don’t think about our trash and often attribute 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. All of this inspired me to make proactive changes in my life and slowly help others follow suit.”

Today, Bare Necessities not only addresses the inherent fallacies of our manufacturing and distribution process but also provides products and services ranging from home-care and lifestyle products to waste consultancy services for organizations.

Cracker of jokes and narrator of stories

Apart from being the brainchild of this thriving enterprise, Sahar loves to spend time with family and friends and claims to crack lots of jokes! “Not sure if they find it funny, but it gets them to laugh, haha!” She also loves narrating stories and incidents which, she thinks, are absolutely hilarious. While most of us crib about things, Sahar is someone who wants to be part of a solution! She tries to inculcate things she is passionate about in her daily conversations to help others and admits to still learning the process.

Quite a disciplinarian, Sahar understands the responsibility of keeping a business running. “It gets a bit tricky,” she says, “but over time I’ve learned to compartmentalize my priorities and stick to a schedule which allows me to make time for things I love!”

When asked if she enjoys staying up late or rising early, she finds it tough to answer since she’s up late most nights and also likes to start her days early. But if she were to pick one, it’d be an early bird. “My mornings have always been sacred. I wake up at 7 AM every morning and either go for a run or take some strength classes by my amazing trainers followed by yoga and meditation – it truly helps center myself,” she explains.

Influences that shaped her

“Some books I’d recommend are The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya By Ramachandra Guha and Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. If you’re looking for a good movie worth your time, I’d recommend Dark waters by Todd Haynes and The True Cost by Andrew Morgan (about the fashion industry).”

Sahar admits to having been blessed with strong women in her life who inspire and help her grow. “My family and some of my closest friends never fail to inspire me with the way they treat life and their approach to challenges,” adds Sahar. She also doesn’t fail to mention her professors who were instrumental in shaping her professional values and ethics. They always cared about the “education of the whole person” rather than mere grades and assignments.

She is also a big fan of AOC – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and follows her ardently on Instagram! “I love all that she stands for and her empathetic, kind nature that ensures she is genuinely passionate about all that she does,” she explains.

Like most people, Sahar’s childhood experiences have significantly contributed to making her the woman she is. While on one hand, it was hard and humbling, on the other hand, it was amusing and full of happiness! She learned early that life has both its ups and downs and it’s the low points in life that taught her the value of all the happy moments and occasions.

On success and superpower as a woman

“I think over the years, I have learned not to put too much pressure on oneself (still learning!) and learned to enjoy the process and journey. It keeps me focused on my goals in a healthy, profitable manner. Another key lesson I’ve learned with time is to compete only with yourself and no one else. Every day, I try to perform better than I did the previous day; these are small changes which have a big impact on one’s mental health and happiness as well!”

Sahar believes success is more than just mainstream business profit. It must be measured with multiple metrics, like one’s happiness, mental health, and wellness. A wholistic sense of success is far more productive and valuable to yourself and the people around you. Given the year 2020 has been, she is really looking forward to reuniting with her family!

I ask her about her superpowers that help her excel at her work, she says, “I’d like to think I’ve picked up the art of time management as it is crucial to keep our priorities set straight.” Another quality that deeply resonates with Sahar is empathy. Be it work, home, or anywhere else, she has learned how easier it gets to connect with people by first connecting with them on a personal level.

Sahar’s Message

Sahar’s message to the reader says:

Dream big! The things that you believe can help steer you towards your goals and ambitions. It will take hard work but it is more than worth the effort. While doing so, don’t forget to cherish the journey as it has the ability to open a Pandora Box of significant lessons for you. Good luck!

Sahar is truly making a change by practicing first and preaching later! Her efforts in making the world a better place have touched our hearts and we are beyond grateful to have her as part of #AmrutamFamily!

More on #AmrutamNari:

  1. Manali Shah, Asst. Digital Features Editor, ELLE India
  2. Aafreen Ansari, Mental Health Activist & Forbes Asia 30 under 30 List
  3. Ankita Kumar, Travel Content Creator
  4. Aanchal Malhotra, Oral Historian & Author
  5. Shramona Poddar, Travel & Lifestyle Blogger and Co-runs Amrapali Boutique
  6. Rohini Kejriwal, Curator & Founder, The Alipore Post
  7. Kshitija Sarda, Founder & CEO, Platform For Artists
  8. Aditi Surana, Graphologist & High-Performance Coach

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