Yogesh Of Bamboo India Tells Us How To Tackle The Toothbrush Pollution
- IWB Post
- June 5, 2017
“We are not only technologically advanced, but we use our potential very well,” said a German farmer to a former banker turned an agricultural entrepreneur, Yogesh Shinde.
Yogesh wondered how Germans used their ‘strength’ of barley in becoming the beer-drinkers paradise on earth. He thus came back from Germany, left his job at Barclays and got to be a Bamboo entrepreneur.
Through his venture Bamboo India that came to life four months back, Yogesh is trying to minimize the use of plastic by manufacturing all things possible in bamboo.
Living in Pune, very close to a small village called Velhe where bamboo is grown in abundance, Shinde found his potential. He discovered that more than 5000 trucks of bamboo are sent to Mumbai, Pune and other big cities every year. While Rice is the staple crop in that region, it is only grown for four months, leaving the farmers idle for the remaining eight months.
In his urge to give the farmers a better life, he established a factory in Velhe. In this highly inspiring conversation with Indian Women Blog, Yogesh gave us essential tips to make our world a better place.
IWB: From being an IT professional to an agricultural entrepreneur, how has the journey been?
Yogesh Shinde: I have been born in an urban middle-class family that had absolutely no connection with agriculture. But as I grew up and went to other countries for work, I learned how well they use their crops and plants in making their environment healthy. So when I stayed in Europe for four years, I noticed that the farmers in that country were much happier as compared to India. I was impressed by my landlords in Germany who were farmers too but had a Mercedes and few housing properties. Those guys were living a quality life.
Despite the country being covered in snow for 4-5 months, they never faced any financial crisis. This picture of the farmers motivated me to help our farmers too. So, I left my job at Barclays and came back to India to do something of my own. When I returned, I was shocked to hear that a distant relative who was a farmer had committed suicide. I was utterly disturbed. I decided that this couldn’t be the right face of a healthy society and as civilized citizens, we must do our bit.
Finding immense potential in Bamboo, I opened Bamboo India.
IWB: Do you have brick-and-mortar retailers from where one can buy?
Yogesh Shinde: At the moment we are selling through our distributors in Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai, and of course, online. We have our presence on Amazon as well. We have exported to 4 countries and will soon come up with our stores.
IWB: Since your bamboo toothbrush costs Rs 100 whereas a plastic toothbrush starts from Rs 20. How are you planning to bridge the price gap?
Yogesh Shinde: It is a demand and supply chain. As soon as the demand increases we will lower the price. In fact, our target is to bring down the cost of our toothbrush to Rs 60 by the end of this year.
But, I would like to make a point here. If you notice the heads of other brands of toothbrushes are bigger as compared to the Bamboo ones. They might reduce the price of the toothbrush, but since they increase the space of its head, more toothpaste is to be applied to it. They gain the other way round!
Also, while wondering about the price you should see at what cost are you harming the nature? Are you looking at the cost of the product or its value?
Toothbrushes are our main concern since plastic toothbrushes are the second largest plastic waste generated after plastic bags. Just in India, more than 150 million plastic toothbrushes are thrown into the garbage every month. All the plastic toothbrushes made since 1938, when they were made for the first time, still exist somewhere on this planet.
IWB: What are the 3 biggest challenges you have come across while setting up Bamboo India?
- Awareness amongst people.
- Acceptability in their mindsets for a better and a healthier change.
IWB: What is your 2017 mission?
Yogesh Shinde: Our mission is to provide employment to more than 100 families, Reduce 10 Lac kg plastic waste and set-up “Bamboo India Village” to provide common facility center for villagers.
IWB: What is that one crazy product you’ve always thought of making but haven’t made yet?
Yogesh Shinde: I believe whatever we have decided we have made them all, for example, a 28 gear bamboo bicycle and bamboo speakers.
A bamboo bicycle? I asked him if he uses it?
Oh yes! I use it for commuting in local, and my son uses it to go to school.
And for those who still doubt you can see it for yourself below!
Another thing that is in the process but will soon see completion is converting plastic pet bottles to bamboo bottles.
Since I couldn’t control my anxiousness for long, I inquired about the bamboo speakers. How did those come into existence?
That’s another interesting incident. Three years back someone called me and said that he was getting married and needed my help. I didn’t know what was coming. He asked me if I could make bamboo speakers for him to be given as return gifts in his wedding. Having seen them already before and wanting to make them, I said yes!
That’s how they were born.
IWB: How do you empower women through Bamboo India?
Yogesh Shinde: Most of the employment that we have generated covers women. My wife is the co-founder, and she handles the entire marketing and online sales of our company. We have also collaborated with women self-help groups from villages. We are further planning to establish a 60-70 acre bamboo forest research center and museum in Velhe in Pune district.
IWB: Tell us about those toothbrushes that share space in the same holder in your bathroom?
Yogesh Shinde: Ohh! I am glad that my children happily share that space now. Earlier they were very reluctant on using bamboo toothbrushes, but now they ask for it.
IWB: How long does a bamboo toothbrush last?
Yogesh Shinde: It usually lasts for 6-8 months, but the doctors advice – and so do we to not use it more than 2 months.
IWB: What is your favorite work song?
Yogesh Shinde: Ummm, having immense love for Bollywood, it would be Oh paalan haare from Lagaan!
IWB: What is one prayer to God you always have?
Yogesh Shinde: I always hope that I can somehow make the forgotten India’s farmers happy. I feel if we can make them happy, the cycle will be complete. Most farmers in our country are not financially sound, and so I hope I can do something that can make them independent.
IWB: How do you preserve the environment at home?
Yogesh Shinde: My car is run on CNG, I have a solar water heater and a solar battery backup at home. And I want to share that every year I go out with my friends on a trek or a trip and plant seeds.
IWB: One celebrity who you want to see using your bamboo pens for autographs?
Yogesh Shinde: Sachin Tendulkar always!
IWB: One key to success you would like to give to Eco-friendly entrepreneurs?
Yogesh Shinde: I would just like to tell them that advertising is not the key at the moment but the connect is.
We’re so excited to use his products, what about you?
[We first published this article in February 2017]