Mosa, a sustainable gifting business created by Prishita Agarwal, a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia, celebrated its one-year anniversary on Dec. 1.
The business is marking the milestone of upcycling 10,000 bottles this year and is planning to save 100,000 bottles in 2024.
While throwing away glass bottles left behind after a party, Agarwal was amazed to find out that students wanted to keep them because they looked pretty, so she came up with the idea to start Mosa, derived from the word mimosa.
After looking into what happens when glass gets thrown away, she found out that glass isn’t recycled properly, a lot of times ending up in landfills or being transported to the United States.
“There should be a better way, especially because these companies who make these bottles, they spend so much time, effort, and money to design and make these bottles very creative,” Agarwal says.
With a $50 glass cutter and the help of her co-founder, Abhiudai Mishra, Agarwal began cutting glass bottles in her dorm room at UBC.
After people expressed interest in their products and started buying them, Agarwal and Mishra decided to expand their business. Their products are now available in over 10 retail stores.
“For months, we went out to farmers markets and met with real customers face-to-face to see what they’re thinking, and we made so many iterations, [so] the product looks so different from the first one we started off with,” Agarwal says.
The process of transforming glass bottles involves cleaning them out, cutting them, and then upcycling. Recycling glass involves molding it, while upcycling involves polishing the glass, which is time-consuming.
“When I started off in my kitchen room making candles, I had no idea what I was doing. But if you do it for long enough, you can scale it up and make [an] impact,” Agarwal says.
Candles are Mosa’s best-selling items, she says, and the company recently came out with their winter candle collection available on their website.
Agarwal says the candle names are a favourite among customers, with some called, “Sleigh All Day Holiday Candle,” “Cold Hands Warm Hearts,” and “Santa’s Favourite Ho,” among others.
Upcycling isn’t a new concept for Agarwal who grew up in India and has been repurposing all her life. Whether it’s reusing cardboard boxes or making a face mask out of orange peels, she has done it all.
“It doesn’t make sense to throw something out which is of such high value,” she says. “Instead of taking something out of the environment, or paying high value for it, you’re taking something which would literally be thrown into waste and making something of high value.”
Agarwal says people are becoming more aware about recycling and upcycling, and predicts the amount of waste we produce is going to significantly reduce in 10 years’ time.
“If we can do it as a small start-up, even bigger companies should be able to do it,” she says.
Most of the products at Mosa are made from glass and make use of sustainable and locally sourced material. The company also values the importance of not letting items that can be used go to waste.
To contribute to the economy, Mosa hires locally and works with other local organizations to reciprocate and give back to the community.
Kwantlen Polytechnic University students can also use the code “Holiday2023” to be eligible for a 20 per cent discount at Mosa.
“I encourage everyone to take that first sustainable step, whether it’s with Mosa by donating glass bottles, or whether it’s with something else,” Agarwal says.