Women’s Day Special: Sahar Mansoor, an accidental entrepreneur on a mission to promote zero-waste living

Meet Sahar Mansoor, who was only 24 years old when she started Bare Necessities, a brand that promotes zero-waste living.
Sahar Mansoor
Sahar Mansoor is a young Indian ecopreneur and the force behind Bare Necessities. Image courtesy: Sahar Mansoor
Radhika Bhirani Updated: 6 Mar 2024, 11:53 am IST
  • 212

Did you know that around 2,000 garbage trucks full of plastic find their way into oceans, rivers, and lakes around the world? The United Nations conjectures that 19-23 million tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into aquatic ecosystems annually. This impacts climate change, food quality and livelihoods. It is this rising problem of plastic pollution and waste mismanagement that lies at the heart of what 30-year-old Indian entrepreneur Sahar Mansoor does.

A socially conscious millennial, she is the founder of Bare Necessities, a personal care and home care brand offering zero waste products, educational and consulting services. The products are made using ethically, locally and naturally sourced ingredients, of course. But sustainability is the underlying thought in every step of the way: manufacturing, distribution and consumption. The packaging involves recyclable, reusable, and biodegradable materials such as glass jars, recycled cardboard and paper tape, which as Sahar says, lend her products a “responsible end of life”.

How Sahar Mansoor became an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship was never her endgoal. “I just always knew I wanted to create an impact. I was very social-leaning in my interests right through high school and college. As I got older, I started reading about climate action and wanted to be more part of the solution.”

A University of Cambridge alumna with an M.Phil in Environmental Policy, Sahar spent early years of her career working as a Mobile Health Researcher at the World Health Organization in Geneva. After that, she worked as a policy analyst and project manager at a solar energy social enterprise in her hometown Bengaluru. By then, she was “obsessed with waste” from an academic lens.

A tryst with a waste-picking community opened her eyes further to waste management issues and social issues related to it. “That’s when I got to put aside my elitist Cambridge, WHO perspective and I began looking at it from a human lens. I decided I was going to try to live a low-waste, low-impact and single-use-plastic-free lifestyle,” Sahar recounts.

Sahar Mansoor of Bare Necessities
Sahar Mansoor believes in living a life with bare minimum waste. Image courtesy: Sahar Mansoor

The birth of Bare Necessities, Sahar Mansoor’s brand

Slowly and steadily, the thought that maybe more people wanted to consume more mindfully, became the seed for Bare Necessities. The 3Ps of People, Planet and Profit became her key drivers in setting up a business where its economic and environmental goals would be congruent.

With Bare Learning, a sustainability education wing of Bare Necessities, Sahar is also striving to create and share educational content for those looking to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

She explains the rationale: “For so long, we have just assumed that businesses have to be valued by only one metric – financial. But more and more companies are showing that it is important to build brands that care about the planet and people. It is about how you are going to create social and environmental impact as by-products of what you are building.”

On the consumer side, she admits it may have become “Instagram cool to be sustainable”, but it’s a win-win either way. Even though there exists a perception that sustainable products come with a higher price tag, Sahar believes it is only a matter of time before economies of scale even out things.

Besides, going low waste can actually save people money, she asserts, pointing out the difference in cost and environmental impact by switching from sanitary pads to a menstrual cup. “We only need more communication around how it makes environmental and financial sense to go sustainable,” adds the author of “Bare Necessities: How to Live a Zero-Waste Life”.

Select Topics of your interest and let us customize your feed.


Overall, Sahar feels encouraged, happy and optimistic about the evolution of people who care about sustainability and the planet that they want to give to the future generation.

Check out Sahar Mansoor’s video interview for Health Shots She Slays!

Sahar Mansoor on her journey of entrepreneurship

Sahar Mansoor was only 24 years old – very optimistic, but also a little too naive – when she launched her brand. Growing up, she believed that working hard would always be “the only formula” to reap results. It worked for good grades in school and for scoring a scholarship to her dream university, but not quite so when she sought funding for her business.

On her journey as a woman entrepreneur in the sustainability business, she says, “I don’t really know whether it was a combination of my age or that I was a single female founder, or the sustainable ecosystem, which just wasn’t developed. But it was really hard. I made over 200-odd failed pitches! After that, I decided I was just going to put my head down, be laser-focussed on building an amazing, kickass brand and the rest would follow.”

She stopped chasing fundraising, and grew her product line. Her work worked like a magnet in organically attracting impact investors that were in line with her social, environmental and economic goals.

“Entrepreneurship cultivates a lot of resilience and you are definitely put to test. I love what I am doing, but in an hour’s time, you can be asking yourself, “Why did I start this exactly?’ But in the end when you persevere and things work out, you look back with a smile. I am just really grateful for building what we have built in the past 7-8 years. We all know that Fast Moving Consumer Goods have contributed to the large waste problem that we are currently living in. So for us to do something opposite, to try and make conscious consumption the norm and not an exception, brings me a lot of joy.”

  • 212
About the Author

Radhika Bhirani is a journalist with close to 15 years of experience in the Indian media industry. After writing extensively on health, lifestyle and entertainment, she leads the English content team at Health Shots. She has a special interest in writing on mental health and wellness. ...Read More

Next Story