2015 saw the success of environmental thinking breaking into the mainstream. London restaurants such as Ethos and Tibits proved vegetarianism was trendy, and veganism became a proud Indie trait. Now, with this millennial quarter fast-approaching, the importance of greener buying choices and safe consumerism are also on the rise. Vishal, the founder of one such relating outfit, talked with us about his new budding venture, VIMI, promoting a zero-waste lifestyle while introducing some charismatic colour and design. Currently, his conscientious range includes bees wax wraps as an alternative to rolls of cling film, stainless steel, glass, or bamboo straws as an alternative to plastic, reusable coffee cups as opposed to single-use ones, and state of the art bottles from Germany’s artsy district of Berlin. “I am aiming to reduce plastic-use,” the eco-friendly entrepreneur commented, “and encourage reusing and recycling instead. I want to raise awareness at the same time as selling wonderful products. Educating people on the issue is always very important.” Indeed, having worked in the corporate sector for a long time prior, Vishal has come to deeply value its intertwining relationship with social impact: “I have been privy to both the mass production of plastic and the unacknowledged repercussions on the customer and environment. Until recently, I was working for a company who manufactured plastics. With more urgent research coming to light about this sort of pollution and some enlightening conversation amongst my circle of friends, I began to realise the great danger of plastic pollution and made the moral choice to create a business that would actively combat it.”
This sentiment extends to the wider market economy: “truth be told,” Vishal continued, “social dialogue and pressure are crucial for manufacturers to change. I do believe many companies should alter the way they create their products, but it’s equally important to be vocal in challenging the dominant production practice. Having more natural goods seems expensive because such materials are available in the world around us, but they are not in demand.” More specifically, already part of an ethical initiative, zero-waste lifestyle businesses would need to increase demand to be able to deliver the favoured outcome of lowering prices at the supply stage. “With VIMI, I really wanted to make alternative choice accessible to all,” Vishal emphasised. The business and spokesperson has worked very hard to integrate the best zero-waste products out there, from far and wide, to make a convenient: “one-stop shop with a playful brand.” Just six weeks into launching the zeitgeist-venture, he is then making impressive progress. As well as great endorsements, Vishal has a pop-up stall in the buzzing Spitalfields Market, and a sophisticated online shop. He also plans to grow an exciting signature line of VIMI’s own and will have a special collection on offer for Christmas. Again, as the Vegan movement’s exciting gift boxes and accompaniments have led by example, festive selections are an excellent way to popularise a smart lifestyle shift. Finally, Vishal told us of the big yet incidental influence of his religion’s core belief of Ahimsa: a showing of care and respect for the surrounding, living world. “I have been a people person and aware of the environment from a young age,” he said. “And as highlighted in a recent David Attenborough documentary, there have been shark carcasses found because of plastics dumped in the ocean. This is very disturbing in terms of wildlife”. But, pushing back against plastic pollution does not even start there. “It just as much begins with us. It is verified that there are microplastics in bottled water, and this is obviously harmful to our health. Once the plastic is manufactured, it cannot be destroyed.” Thus, “we must be aware of how each consumable is affecting the environment from flora and fauna to human beings themselves.” But, of course, as VIMI’s diverse and bright products at once reminds us that plastic-free living can be a reality, fun and the best way forward for a healthier environment. From a business point of view, the enterprise shows that a good way to forward human causes is to resonate with human nature.
Was there more to starting your environmental enterprise?
I previously worked at a company which manufactured children’s plastic tableware. VIMI helps to offset my carbon footprint built over the years. If you are a parent, it’s impossible not to want to protect your young ones. Preserving the environment is as much about securing a safe present for the next generations as it’s about their futures by keeping things in continuous rotation and out of landfills and oceans.
Tell us more about VIMI’s great products?
Yes, we’ve got wheat bran plates you can actually eat after using. There’s your breakfast and lunch! We also have biodegradable, toothbrushes made of bamboo as opposed to plastic. We also have organic alternatives for women’s and men’s hygiene. They actually last longer. We’ve got the home bases covered.
Have you always been passionate about the environment?
Oh yes, all the time. Perhaps another influence of my cultural upbringing: I’ve never liked wasting resources when they’re available at home. If you bought it, you should use it. It’s only when the life of a product ends that you should get a replacement. However, I will say that pivotal environmental facts and research have also only come to light recently. They make much more sense and are at the forefront of media than they’ve ever been before. The discussions of why we should be looking after the earth are far sharper now than when I was growing up.
What is the imagination behind your logo?
I am a socially conscious entrepreneur so I want my brand to reflect that: it’s plain black but stylish, simple but meaningful. I wanted to keep the brand image minimalistic and let the beautiful products speak for themselves. We’ve got products covering latest trends to classic prints like flamingo colours, moustache and botanical feel to name a few.
Who’s been a big support?
Definitely my wife, whose name actually forms part of the brand name. She is currently the breadwinner so this allows me to pursue Vimi fulltime.
Finally, if you could tell people concisely why and how they should consider a zero-waste lifestyle, what would you say?
Using plastics has many serious ill effects. Humans, animals and environment are interdependent so we must consider them all when buying our consumables. Secondly, I’d recommend starting with taking small steps at a time. Zero-waste is a mentality before it’s pragmatic. Start by replacing or reusing one thing, and then move onto the next.
Do visit our stall @ Spitafields (Fri –Sun) to experience how you can live a zero waste lifestyle.