Lokesh Sambhwani is the co-founder of Refillable. He is an environmentalist and an ecopreneur.
What made you start Refillable?
Since our college days, Purav, Rahul and I have been involved with social causes. We actually ended up adopting a few villages and helping them through building Solar Electricity, Wells, empowering the woman to run businesses, giving them seed money and teaching their kids. During our graduation, India put a blanket ban on single use plastics, and we thought we could solve the problem. That’s where it all started. 3 years and 2 startups later, we’re still obsessed to solve this problem!
What led to Refillable in particular was the pandemic, during the 1st lockdown, we were guilty of hoarding products for 2-3 months. That led us to realise that we need the products and not the packaging, and that’s when it all started.
For the 1st 8 months, we were just working with 50 people to understand the consumer response! Based on the feedback, the refill truck was launched, and then the bike.
"The aim is to have a refill ecosystem, from your local Kirana stores to your big baskets, we want to enable everyone!"
What is the one personality trait which also reflects in the brand?
Honesty and Youth! People have been more open to try out our solutions as we are kids and would love to experiment with it. We never want to make refillable like a corporate, it aims to be the brand which makes sustainability cool and youthful.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a socially conscious business?
Greenwashing and Consumer Awareness. Both are inter related. We as humans are guilty of falling prey to so many greenwashing campaigns.
When people say its biodegradable, the question we should be asking if it’s actually done?
India has very few composting units so regardless of it actually being biodegradable/compostable, 70% chances that it will enter the landfill. A common misunderstanding people have of sustainability is that it is either expensive or inconvenient. We are here to bust that myth! Making sustainability convenient, accessible and affordable for consumers.
Who inspires you the most? Any mentors that you look up to?
In a time where start up is the buzz word, I believe to make a system and company which will last generations. I look up to people and businesses who have come from nothing, solved hard problems, pivoted over time as per market conditions and changed the world. Might be a cliché but Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are really who help us think about the actual problems differently.
Do you think an individual's actions matter?
100%. I can’t run a social enterprise if I am not following it completely. I get this question a lot, and I read this on the internet somewhere and it made a lot of sense and has been my standard response ever since - It’s just 1 straw, said 7 billion people!
Essentially if all of us just made 1 change, we can work towards achieving carbon neutrality sooner!
One quote that keeps you going in life?
The goal isn’t to live forever. It is to create something that will!