Argentina, Malaysia, Brunei, Switzerland, the Galápagos Islands. What do all these have in common?
These are a handful of numerous countries and territories that have seen conservation and climate action (in some cases signed into law) following collective pressure from participants of Earth Hour. Be it the protection of ecosystems, urging governments to phase out fossil fuels, or bans on plastic usage, Earth Hour is not just an hour of saving electricity – it brings about actual change.
To celebrate this symbolic movement, we spoke to Ankita, founder of Purple & Pure, about how we can all do our part to protect the environment. Purple & Pure develops and curates products to help make the transition to a zero-waste lifestyle not only easier, but more stylish as well!
We invite you to join us, if you can, as we turn off non-essential lighting and unplug this Saturday, 26th March, 830-930pm. Let’s take action and show our commitment to the future of our society and planet!
Could you share a bit about your personal story?
Hi, my name is Ankita and I moved to Singapore 4 years ago from Australia. I started Purple & Pure after having my first child. While raising him, I opted for cloth nappies to reduce waste and that started my zero waste journey. With this in mind, we started to reduce our plastic consumption and contribute towards a sustainable future.
I always had a dream of running my own business and wanted to do something that I really care about and contribute my small cents so that kids grow up in a safe and pure environment. Knowing the devastating impact of plastic pollution, I decided that I wanted to be part of a movement to reduce plastic consumption by offering sustainable alternatives.
So, I started Purple & Pure with the aim of helping people to find eco-friendly, plastic free essentials in their everyday life.
Why the name ‘Purple & Pure’?
Purple symbolizes magic, I wanted to do some magic to save the purest thing – Earth and hence the name “Purple & Pure”.
What are some of the challenges you faced when you started P&P and how did you overcome them?
The first challenge is to find the right supply chain. I always wanted to provide products that were ethically made yet affordable for their quality. I only work with factories that provide safe working conditions, fair trade employment to workers and promote women workers.
So, for example, when we were developing the reusable kitchen products for our consumers, we were involved in the entire supply chain, right down to the cotton farmers and their families. We’re committed to making sure that from the moment a cotton seed is planted, it’s grown in the best way and carries through to how our bed sheets and towels are made. That’s why we choose to be certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). Our workers are paid fair wages and work in safe conditions in accordance with International Labour Laws.
The second challenge, and probably the biggest challenge, is awareness. We started our journey with reusable bags and started to carry them while going to grocery stores. Slowly people started asking about these bags.
I noticed that there is a “circular economy” * theme to some of your products. Can you share more about how you developed the recently-launched Incense Sticks and the good it does for rural communities?
(*”A circular economy employs reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling to create a closed-loop system, minimising the use of resource inputs and the creation of waste, pollution and carbon emissions.” – Wikipedia)
We started this project with young college students in India. The manufacturing process of incense sticks commences with the collection of flower waste from temples in India. Instead of disposing of the flowers, we collect them and carefully segregate and solar dry them to make incense sticks. Each Stick is hand-rolled by our specially-abled and rural women with lots of love and care, thus empowering them and reducing the persistent inequalities in our society.
Why are rural communities important to you? Is there a backstory?
Being born and brought up in India, I have seen how uneducated women sacrifice themselves because of no financial stability. We are privileged enough to get education and it brings justice to the education if we can help and lift others up.
How important is it that we act now for the future generation?
It is very important. Convenience has become an environmental enemy. We need to work to take care of land that has taken care of us. So though it may be an inconvenience at the start, these actions can become habits, which will be building blocks for a comfortable life for those who come after us.
Raising a child is challenging in itself. As a parent who was committed to using cloth nappies, do you have any specific tips you can share with parents who have young children but still want to pursue a zero-waste lifestyle?
Yes. Start with small steps. Using reusable cloth instead of wet wipes where required. While dining, teaching kids to refuse tissues and use reusable cloth. Inculcating the use of open steel cups instead of plastic sippy cups/bottles in toddlers for drinking water. Making kids as young as 4 years old aware of refilling their bottles instead of buying distilled/packaged water bottles wherever possible while outdoors.
Teaching kids to carry a small reusable bag with them while shopping with their elders. This way kids carry their own purchases in their own bags. Encouraging toddlers to reuse empty tissue rolls or bottle caps for various arts and craft projects. Teaching kids to switch off lights and fans while leaving a room.
About Earth Hour
First observed by WWF-Australia back in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to be the world’s largest grassroots environmental movement, involving more than 190 countries (and territories), major buildings and landmarks, and millions of people switching off their lights for an hour as a symbol of commitment to people and planet.
Written by Sheena Hong