Everything changed when Shehani Rasaputra got pregnant. Her husband, in an attempt to transition them into a more chemical-free lifestyle pre-baby, sent her some articles on the subject and, in Shehani’s words, “that just went crazy.”. “I just got fully absorbed in it all, and I was horrified. I binged-watched documentaries for a week, I was just harping on about it to all my friends. I was probably so annoying, in hindsight!” she laughs. After some very intense self-education, Shehani says, “I never turned back.” And that is how I find her debating the difference in hummus serving sizes when ordered in-store versus on UberEats (in-store almost always guarantees a bigger portion).
Prior to the aforementioned awakening, Shehani “didn’t have a connection with being eco-friendly, environmentally conscious, nothing like that, but I was really interested in helping communities,” she explains. After spending most of her childhood in Australia, she returned to Sri Lanka, completed a degree in Business Management, and started working at the Colombo Institute of Research and Psychology. Over her 5 years there, she would consistently push for more community outreach programs. “I was just one of those people.”
Just Goodness, in a way, is an extension of this sentiment. While researching and trying to purchase chemical-free products for her baby, Shehani found minimal options available in Sri Lanka. So she ordered them online and, upon their arrival, had to pay more than double their price in duty. “It was insane,” Shehani says. “I’m just trying to buy basic items for my child that doesn’t have chemicals, why do I even have to order them from outside the country when Sri Lanka is full of natural resources?” That was how Just Goodness initially began, she says, “Because people deserve to have products that are good for them, they shouldn’t be forced into buying products that aren’t.” Initially called Mommy Market, the online store sold baby products that were sourced from abroad, until Shehani started looking for local alternatives. “I went to The Good Market, found a few brands there, those brands introduced me to other brands, and then I realised there are actually a lot of companies making good products, it’s just that there’s a problem with finding them,” she shares. After expanding to a wider range of products, the platform was renamed Just Goodness in 2018, and committed itself to making chemical-free products accessible island-wide. “The more we went into this business, the more we realised that a lot of the companies making these products were stuck where they were, and didn’t have an opportunity to grow,” she says. “So what we’re trying to do is support companies that are local, and make good products go global.”
The concept of zero-waste, Shehani explains, goes beyond simply eliminating plastic use. “It looks into every aspect of trying to be sustainable: reducing waste, making sure the produce you sell isn’t harming the environment, what farms you’re supporting, whether your products are grown with toxins, your carbon footprint.” Their greatest challenges so far have been price points and accessibility. “We’ve tried to make our products as affordable as possible, but we’re still not at a point where they match conventional product prices,” she says. “It’s going to take some time for the market to grow and reach that point.”
It’s all been a learning curve so far, Shehani says — “But that’s what people need to understand, you don’t need to know everything. You can just be interested in trying to make a difference and figure it out on the way.” She continues, “And that’s the point of the platform — to support you to make that journey with us, where we can all contribute and be better.”
Photography by Amitha Thennakoon. Art & Direction by Ricky De Silva. Videography by StoryWorks.