10 ways to have a sustainable holiday in Goa | Condé Nast Traveller IndiaJune 3, 2021
A strawberry cake from Okapi Vegan Kitchen (Photo: Shikha Tripathi) and products from Kuva Botanicals
India’s essential beach getaway that evolved into the go-to choice for workations this past year, Goa has always been a paradise. With more businesses finding ways to support an eco-minded lifestyle, visitors now have many ways to support the local economy and help preserve Goa’s natural and cultural heritage. Here are some of the best sustainable initiatives to start off with on your next trip.
Co-created by nature-lovers Pooja Rani and Bipin Bhosale, Khoj-aao is a play on words that means ‘to be lost’ in the wonders of nature, and at the same time, to discover its little joys. From morning walks complete with breakfast picnics, to overnight camping under the stars, the duo has created a lens through Khoj-aao that magnifies the smaller details of Goa’s flora and fauna, encouraging travellers and residents alike to appreciate their backyard. Peer over puffball mushrooms, marvel at the creative leaf nests of ants, and learn all about Goa’s most popular fruits kaju and kokam, on their very educational and exciting trips. Website.
Okapi Vegan Kitchen
The brainchild of Aarti Sinha, Okapi is a reflection of Sinha’s metamorphosis to being vegan. Along with creating delicious and affordable vegan food, Sinha also volunteers at animal rescue centres. She creates daily home delivery and takeaway menus with her business partner, Mahi Baid. From chocolate cakes to strawberry tarts, smoothie jars and puddings, gluten-free olive garlic and sourdough breads, there’s something for every craving. They also host pop-up dinners with these favourites and new offerings. Instagram.
BLive is an e-biking network that offers guided tours on electronic bicycles in several Indian destinations. A ‘pilot’ leads bikers through narrow lanes, quiet neighbourhoods, past churches and paddy fields, all redolent of the unruffled Goan life. The bike allows you to switch easily between manual and electronic mode as per your comfort. You can opt for trails in the north and the south of the state, and even islands like Divar, navigating them with local experts who will give you historic and quirky facts as you breeze through. Website
The award-winning Terra Conscious has transformed dolphin-watching from a cheap recreational activity to an education in marine wildlife and in the process, has helped create sustainable livelihood solutions for local communities. “Only in India is the enormous privilege of seeing an endangered animal in its natural habitat priced under five dollars,” says Puja Mitra, co-founder of Terra Conscious. In the wake of COVID-19, the organisation is now trying to diversify into alternative sustainable livelihoods too to enable resilience for the communities that depend on it. Website.
Yogita Mehra and Karan Manral’s food plant nursery, called Green Essentials, aims to make people self-sufficient in this most essential of human skills: growing our own food. Acting as a knowledge hub, nursery and store, Green Essentials encourages people to set off on a personal farm-to-table journey. Their primary aim is to help people grow organic food anywhere they have space, be it in their garden, terrace, balcony or sunlit corner. Website.
Created by Varun Hegde and Kedar Borkar, Soul Travelling designs walking tours across Goa that are far from the madding crowds. Pick from a bouquet of curated walks depending on your interests, be it art, architecture, or local cuisine. Over a couple of hours, you can understand Indo-Portuguese heritage and its customs and quirks, or sample fresh pastry puffs in traditional home bakeries and send a postcard to a loved one from the world’s only post office located at a seminary. It’s a ticket to discovering a little of Goa’s hidden side. Website.
A strong belief in building a healthier community through nourishing food brought together Jas (Jasmine Jagada) and Dita (Nivedita Magar) to create Green Chokrees. The store showcases products that are mostly plant-based, organic, non-GMO, and minimally processed. There are high-quality organic grains (sold loose to discouraging packaging; carry your own bag!), fresh breads, vegan spreads, local cheese and free-range eggs, and also personal care and lifestyle products. Coffee and cookies add to the store’s warm welcome. Open from 11am-5.30pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Instagram.
Started by Ayesha Madgavkar, Kuva is proudly local. Kuva was how Goa was once popularly known by foreign traders, and the store’s range of tropical products celebrates the region’s heritage. Coconut oil and kokum butter form the base for most of these earth-friendly and zero-waste skincare products. The products reflect various parts of Madgavkar’s life, from Cocotine, the first soap she made for her mother, to Sangolda Summer, reminiscent of summer holidays she spent with her cousins in the Goan village. Kuva’s natural deodorant balms are their bestsellers. Website.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s swadeshi movement and a deep love for Indian textiles, Ondi Mc-Master Chullil launched Atelier Om, a brand that creates trendy fusion clothing and accessories that are all handmade. The products are beautiful, functional and mindful: certified organic and fair-trade, made in the khadi tradition of spinning, naturally dyed and hand block-printed, and largely upcycled from waste fabric. Website.
Founded by Vijaya Pais, the New Earth Gathering brings together multiple sustainable outfits under one roof. Born from her quest for greener alternatives to regular consumer products, Pais launched this market as a one-stop solution that sells non-toxic and biodegradable products. The community market is held every third Sunday in different locations, where people can expect to find fair-trade clothing, vegan salads and desserts, gluten-free breads, organic cosmetics and skincare products, and even workshops woven around sustainable learning. New Earth also holds Good Karma, a garage sale of donated and upcycled clothes and accessories with proceeds towards charity. Instagram.