Express News Service
CHENNAI: Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle is not new to Chennaiites. What with the civic body banning plastics in 2019 and people, at least most of them, adhering to it. But when there is an opportunity to go zero waste, why not, right?
Helping residents in this endeavour is entrepreneur Jignesh Pujara, owner of Lyfe by Soul Garden Bistro. Plans were put in place last year after he studied responsible consumption and sustainability. But owing to the pandemic, his zero-waste store, Eko-Lyfe was launched in mid-April 2021.
Claiming to be the city’s largest zero-waste store, Eko-Lyfe is located opposite Lyfe by Soul Garden Bistro in Alwarpet. Giving a virtual tour of the 1,200 sq ft space, its in-house facilities and the extensive line-up of products, he says, “Customers are encouraged to leave their footwear outside as a mark of respecting food. You find reusable containers and glass jars on the shopping trolley. You can either pick that up or bring your containers.”
The shop is divided into different segments based on where each product is stored. Soon after you enter, to your left you’ll find indigenous rice varieties such as kichili samba, sona masuri hand-pounded raw rice, kullakar boiled rice, mappillai samba boiled rice, thooyamalli raw and boiled rice kept in canisters. “The segments are separated by a weighing machine to measure the product purchased. To ease the process, we’ve placed dals, hand-pound flours, nuts and millets next to rice. We’ve invested in a machine in which fresh flour is ground and handed over to customers,” explains Jignesh.
Placed next to the shelves of grains are sweeteners like powdered jaggery, palm jaggery, palm crystals and palm sugar. To make your daily cooking easier, the shop offers in-house masala and spices. In-house idli and dosa batter, ground flour, and peanut butter are made to order. Their specially curated bread menu comprising whole wheat, multigrain, pav bun, ciabatta, focaccia, French baguette, sourdough loaf, etc is a delight for the expats, he says. “People have become health conscious after the pandemic. As retailers, we need to be one step ahead of their needs. Our dairy products are procured from native cow varieties. The edible cold-pressed coconut, gingelly and groundnut oil are also in demand,” he shares.
A whole section is dedicated to vegan goodness. “Our frozen mock meats are hot-sellers. There’s vegan curd, milk, cheese and spreads. We also offer in-house Italian low-fat gelatos. Seasonal vegetables and fruits are also available and there’s a shandy every Wednesday and Sunday,” he shares. We also catch a glimpse of a collection of eco-friendly vessel scrubs, bottle cleaners and traditional cookware at the shop. After shopping, patrons can relax at their in-house cafe Antari for quick eats.
The cafe serves coffee and tea in edible biscuit cups. Other food and drinks like air-fried samosa, french fries, potato wedges, sandwiches and pastries are served in biodegradable bagasse plates and cups. Even the furniture in the cafe are made from waste paper pulp. However, due to the lockdown restrictions, they only offer takeaways.
The store reflects Jignesh’s vision. “There’s a community fridge outside the store, where edible food (extra food from our bistro) can be picked up by the needy. Given the situation, as a precautionary measure, for the first time in Chennai, we have installed Shycocan. The device continuously emits photons that form an electron cloud in an indoor space. The negatively charged electrons neutralise the positive charge of the S-Protein of Coronavirus, thereby disabling it from infecting a person.
At the same time, we recommend following precautions as advised by WHO,” elaborates Jignesh, who has plans of opening zero-waste stores in other parts of the city. “Our priority is to offer safe food, ensure fair pricing for farmers and consumers, protect their livelihood and curb plastic use. Chennai needs more of this,” he shares.
Eko-Lyfe is open from 8 am to 10 pm every day
Address: No 3, Ananda Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 18
For details, call: 044-42187195/9080062885