28-year-old Smita D. Shirodkar, CEO and Founder of Earthoholics shares her journey with our readers on how a search for developing her backyard garden led her to create one of the most popular and sought after eco-friendly ventures in the city.
A Commerce and an MCOM graduate, and an MBA in Operations, Smita started working part-time in her father’s consumer electronics business since college and eventually founded Earthoholics in November 2011.
Armed with a team that consists of Anuradha who is the youngest member (21yrs) and the only full-time employee and four friends – Rahul, Priyanka, Vishal and Bhavesh who regularly volunteer to join Smita during events, Earthoholics operates primarily out of Mumbai.
How did it all begin?
‘It’s only when you look for something from your heart do you find treasure’ holds true when it came to Smita’s search for information on how to best cultivate an acre of land in her home in Goa back in July 2011.
“This is when I came across a term called as “organic agriculture” which was Greek to me. Over the Internet I found out that OFAI – Organic Farmers Association India is headquartered in Goa and it was such a blessing! I was looking for information all over and it was right there!” adds Smita.
She contacted Mr Miguel Braganza, Additional Director of OFAI and he promptly replied with a lot of information and suggested that she attend one of the Agricultural seminars organised by NABARD, Goa in September 2011.
“Meanwhile, in Mumbai where I live, while surfing the Internet, I got to know that there was something called as ‘Organic Kitchen Gardening’ taking place at Maharashtra Nature Park. I was super curious to know about the group named “Urban Leaves” led by Preeti Patil, who promotes growing vegetables on terraces using Amrut Mitti. I contacted them and was told that the next day they were celebrating Kitchen Gardener’s Day on 28th August 2011,” recalls Smita.
“That day I met Ms. Preeti, and things changed since then. I saw the premier of their documentary on how they started making Amrut Mitti (composting using Amrut Jal, waste and dry leaves) The whole concept and Ms. Preeti’s dedication just conquered my mind and heart,” says Smita.
She then realised that if collectively done how we can actually have a zero garbage city. She kept following their events by taking time from her office schedule and eventually moved on to do what she actually loved.
“It was then that I realised why some people say farming is something which brings you close to nature. With every event/workshop I attended be it Mumbai or Goa- courtesy Miguel Sir’s guidance, I discovered that just making money and living luxuriously was not enough. Eventually, there’d be nothing left for our kids and generations to come so what’s the use of money! I realised that we all urgently need to change the way we live and think. Until I met the group – Urban Leaves, my idea of a beautiful, happy life was totally lavish and disconnected with nature, but now it’s just the opposite. Now I want to work towards sustainability and try to give back to the environment much more than I am taking,” adds Smita.
“I’ve always been a workaholic and my friends get fed up with my work schedules,” quips Smita. After she got involved with environment-related activities, all she kept talking about were issues related to the planet every time she met her friends. Finally, when one of her team members Rahul, said to her that she has now become an “EARTHOHOLIC” it stuck with her.
“The name stayed in my head, and the day I actually structured the whole venture I had a ready name –“EARTHOHOLIC”, courtesy Rahul! The name Earthoholic, so that everyone should be obsessed with saving and bettering our only home—EARTH,” smiles Smita.
According to Smita, the major challenge is that most people fail to understand how they can singularly do their bit to save the planet. Most of them feel the government must do something about it rather than being responsible themselves.
“This is the reason why today nothing happens as we wait for someone else to do it. To deal with such a mindset, we use our event Nature Bazaar’s platform to reach people and organise free awareness programs taken by experts where we educate all on how each one of us can make a difference by implementing small changes,” adds Smita.
Projects and Workshops conducted
Earthohlics have a weekend activity centre running at Dadar West in Mumbai, where they conduct workshops to promote the concepts of ‘RECYCLE, REUSE & REDUCE’.
(1) Utility Art- where you can paint old bottles and glasses with lead-free non-toxic paints and revamp and reuse them.
(2) Newspaper bag & envelope making
(3) Newspaper Container & Lantern making
(5) Growing Vegetables & herbs at home
(6) Hand-building Pottery.
(7) Waste Plastic Bottle art.
Their clients include anyone who wants to make the best use of their time and get value for money. There are kids, adults and even senior citizens who are all eager to reuse and recycle. If you haven’t taken your kid to one of these workshops during their vacations, it’s time you do!
Other eco-friendly activities
Besides the Activity Centre that promotes ‘recycle, reuse and reduce’, Earthoholics has also started with a series of Nature Bazaars, which is a moving market. Every month it moves to various central and western suburbs of Mumbai where they offer eco-friendly substitutes for every little thing we use in our daily life.
“The aim is to help people lead a healthy life for themselves and for the planet. There are free seminars on rainwater harvesting, growing your own food, waste management- where we teach people how to compost at home and give them resources where they can send their dry waste to recycle. We also conduct seminars on solar installations and how over a long term solar heaters and the likes are beneficial. Our experts help people understand the return on investment from solar products. Through Nature Bazaar we wish to achieve Earthoholic’s vision of implementing a change in the way we all live,” adds Smita.
If you wish to learn something eco-friendly and sustainable or want your kids to get involved in something useful and productive (other than dance and music), contact Smita at http://earthoholic.com and their Facebook page.
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