Mr Vikash Kumar Agarwal founded Go Grocer in 2020, embarking on the dawn of his splendid entrepreneurship journey to avail high-quality agro-food products to the Indian economy class at reasonable and affordable prices. Born to a Merchant Navy chief engineer father, he followed in his father’s footsteps, took up cadetship in 1999 and served for 20 years as a captain. He then diversified his efforts into establishing and nurturing Go Grocer during the pandemic. It is a concept devised after witnessing the domestic market flooded with poor-graded products, whereas a significant portion of the premium quality is exported. Attesting the lack of a single player to serve all corners and states of India while maintaining uniformity in premium quality and price propelled him to venture into the Agro consumer industry. He started the venture from a small brick and motor shop in a residential society in Noida. Labelled as a necessary commodity during the lockdown, Vikash’s arduous efforts and compassion eventually became successful, as consumers from all directions poured in online. His keen observation and business acumen have allowed him to ensure that the spices, cereals, mustard oil, dry fruits, and various categories that make an ‘Indian thali’ are of premium-export quality for the commoner’s disposal. His vision and efforts are especially focused on providing a better healthy agro-consumer product option at a much more competitive price.
The alarming increase in population, rise in environmentally harmful activities, and increased environmental consciousness among people have led to the inclusion of the concept of sustainability in almost every sector. Businesses are now adopting sustainable practices so that their operations have minimal or no negative environmental impact. Sustainable business practices vary from business to business, depending on the product and services that it produces. For instance, some companies use energy-efficient energy sources; some use environmentally friendly packaging for their products or adopt environmentally friendly production techniques to minimise pollution.
Sustainable business practices include ecological initiatives businesses take to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to the environment’s welfare. The type of initiatives a company implements depends on its operational activities, investments, and ability to reduce carbon emissions. Besides the many benefits, sustainable practices also help businesses save money.
Like the other industries, the agriculture and food industry also incorporates sustainable practices to protect the environment and contribute to its welfare.
Here are some of the sustainable business practices undertaken by the businesses involved in food products.
In agriculture and food industries, waste is generated regularly, from food production to its processing, distribution, and consumption. If operated carelessly, without proper management, the organic waste can emit methane gas as they decompose. The methane molecules released into the atmosphere create a warming effect much more potent than carbon dioxide. Methane gas emissions can be controlled using methane digesters that transform food waste into two main products: biogas and solids called digest rate, which is a nutrient-rich fertiliser. The biogas generated is a very economical option as it can help businesses save money by reducing operating costs.
Food and agricultural businesses that cannot afford biodigesters. They can efficiently and effectively manage their organic waste and reduce the waste sent to landfills with the help of composting. The composting process also reduces the methane emissions that cause global warming. Besides this, it converts organic material into valuable fertiliser, which can be used to enrich poor soil and improve plant growth. Composting is also beneficial because it lowers waste hauling and disposal costs.
Packaging is of utmost importance in the food industry. It helps preserve food quality and safety, reduces food waste and food-borne diseases, and increases food’s shelf-life. Currently, many restaurants use fossil-based packaging materials, non-biodegradable and hazardous to the environment if not disposed of properly. Businesses can minimise their environmental footprint by using biodegradable packaging that can be easily recycled and composted. Also, since many consumers focus on sustainable brands, food businesses can show their commitment to sustainability and have a competitive advantage by investing in biodegradable packaging.
Minimise food waste
On a global level, food waste accounts for around 8 per cent of total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. The production of uneaten food gives rise to various resources like seeds, water, energy, land, fertiliser, and human and financial capital. A market evaluation can minimise food waste, so the buyer is secured beforehand. Also, the implementation of sufficient storage, processing, and transportation facilities would significantly help in causing a reduction in food waste. Restaurants can minimise food waste by conducting a waste audit to understand where the most waste is produced. They can do that by training staff to reduce food waste and store food properly. They can also use the FIFO (first-in, first-out) method, ensuring that the older stocks are used up before using newer items.
Reducing energy waste
Up to 80% of that energy gets wasted through inefficient lighting, cooling, and heating technologies and the use of energy-consuming kitchen appliances. Restaurants and food businesses can lower their energy consumption and save money by using energy-efficient equipment and investing in renewable energy technologies. In many areas, rebate programmes and confessions are offered to restaurants to help them offset the cost of making energy-efficiency upgrades.
Minimise water waste
Most of the use of water in food businesses and restaurants is associated with equipment and processes that take place in the kitchen. Washrooms account for the second-highest use of water in restaurants. Restaurants and food businesses can conserve water and maximise utility bills by installing water-saving toilets. This will reduce the water used with each flush and replace water-intensive equipment with water-efficient models.
Green supply chain
Food businesses can minimise their environmental and social footprint by buying products from suppliers showing firm commitments to sustainability, purchasing products made from recycled materials and sourcing ingredients locally. A business with a more sustainable approach has more chances of attracting a new demographic of customers that are more conscious about their food choices.
Using eco-friendly cleaning products
If you own a sustainable business, you must already have some ideas about how the use of cleaning products damages the environment. Although it is acceptable that most eco-friendly cleaning products are pricier than regular ones, their benefits are larger than their cost.
Firstly, you need to note that regular cleaning products contain harsh and harmful chemicals that pollute the water and air. On the other hand, environmentally friendly cleaning products are free of chemicals and better for everyone’s health.
To know whether the cleaning products are eco-friendly, look for labels like Greenguard, Green Seal, Design for the Environment, Chlorine Free Products Association, or Environmental Choice Program.
Use sustainable furniture
Although you may never have noticed, how you furnish and decorate your office and workspace can also impact the environment. To incorporate sustainability in your furnishings, look for local furniture makers that use sustainable, recycled materials. If you like to be crafty, you can also talk to site contractors to help scout commercial building sites for materials you can repurpose.
For the interiors, use zero-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints when for the walls or furniture because they are a healthier and more environmentally-conscious alternative. Regular paint contains harmful chemicals, which can induce headaches, central nervous system issues, and respiratory and skin irritation when released into the air.
Another thing you can do to make your office more sustainable is to use eco-friendly consumables like LED light bulbs. You can also install motion sensor light fixtures in the bathroom to consume less energy.