Nowadays, the trend of organic and eco-friendly products is gradually increasing. Everyone tries to include more and more eco-friendly products in their lifestyle. Online shopping is common in today’s digital age and in such a situation, all the products come packed in something or the other. You may have ordered organic soaps, but they come packaged in plastic, so what’s the point? Therefore, as much as the importance of eco-friendly products, the packaging is equally important.
Seeing the demand for eco-friendly packaging in the industry, a girl from Odisha has started a unique startup. Chandni Khandelwal, 26, from Baripada, has started the ‘Ecoloop’ startup for ‘sustainable packaging’ (odisha startup). Through her startup that started in January 2021, she is not only providing employment to several artisan groups in Odisha but also providing eco-friendly packaging to many brands.
Chandni told The Better India, “My mother inspired me to pursue my craft from a very young age. He got me admitted in School of Arts and Crafts, Baripada after class 10th and here Late Shyam Prasad Patnaik Sir guided me. With his suggestion, I took admission in NIFT, Bhubaneshwar. In the field of arts and crafts, I always wanted to do something different. So that not only the society, but also our environment is benefited.
Idea came during internship
Chandni had seen since childhood how her mother does not let anything go to waste. She uses every small thing big or small by recycling or recycling. Apart from this, crafts are made in Odisha from many natural things like bamboo, sabai grass and paper mash etc. The artisans make very different and beautiful things. “I wanted to do something so that these artisans get maximum work and we can keep our craftsmanship alive. From college days, I started making changes in my lifestyle as well. As my tiffin used to come in polythene, I collected this polythene for two years. Not a single polythene was allowed to go in the garbage but for recycle,” he said.
In the last year of college, Chandni got an opportunity to do an internship with the famous ‘Rhizom’ firm in Ahmedabad. During this internship, she designed sustainable packaging for a brand of rhizomes. For this, he used old cardboard, flex sheets etc. used by the railways. Her packaging received a lot of appreciation and it was from here that Chandni decided that she would forge ahead in the field of sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. After the completion of his degree in 2019, he also worked with Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society.
“Working with this society increased exposure to hand-craftsmen in rural areas of Odisha. I saw that we already have so many eco friendly options, which if marketed properly will not only increase employment in rural areas but also eco-friendly products will reach more and more people. So I worked on starting Ecoloop (Odisha Startup) and taking it forward,” she says.
Eco friendly packaging made from bamboo, Sabai grass
Chandni says that there are currently more than 500 artisans associated with Ecoloop, who make products for them in different groups. First, he got some artisans to make products for packaging and showed them to some clients. After this, as his orders started coming in, he carried on with his work. “I had invested around Rs 20,000 in the beginning and after that, whatever we are earning now, we are investing it further. At the moment, we are working on gifting packaging and make around 20 types of products. In this entire journey, my husband Dheeraj Choudhary has supported me and every possible support was given,” she added.
Chandni says that apart from sabai grass, bamboo, paper mache, she is also working on terracotta and palm leaf crafts. All these raw materials are natural. Like Sabai grass is a wild grass. People in rural areas make things like baskets, boxes, mats from this grass. In many places people get employment from the products made of this grass. Despite being nature friendly and economical, such products do not make their mark on a large scale. The main reason for this is the lack of marketing and the products are not being made according to today’s demand. Chandni is working on these two subjects through her startup (Odisha Startup).
She added that apart from some generic products, she is also designing products as per the need and demand of the customers. The startup is still in its nascent stage but Chandni says it is slowly making a mark in the industry. He is getting three to four bulk orders every month.
Usha Rani, a member of the Sabai Producer Group, says, “We all want to move ahead with our hands-on skills. Now we are getting this chance. It has always been our endeavor to set up a large scale manufacturing unit for Sabai Grass products and with the help of Ecoloop, this dream is now becoming a reality. If we keep getting the means to move forward like this, nothing can be better than this.
Chandni says she aims to make Ecoloop (Odisha Startup) a big brand in the field of sustainable packaging. So that he can work with artisans and crafts not only from Odisha but also from different areas. Because in every area in India you will find some special craftsmanship like Sarkanda is famous in Uttar Pradesh and Sikki art in Bihar. All these traditional crafts are a good alternative to plastic products. All you need is the right platform and marketing.
If you want to get in touch with Chandni, you can message her on Instagram (@the_ecoloop).
Editing – G N Jha
Also read: After lighting Diwali, these lights made of banana fiber will also be recycled
If you’ve been inspired by this story, or want to share any of your experiences with us, write to us at email@example.com, or Facebook & Twitter Twitter Contact on