A Gurgaon-based startup called Adventure Overland has been breaking the internet this week. They launched an insane 2-month road trip from Turkey to London. This will be the world’s longest bus trip and cover nearly 12,000 kilometres and 22 countries.
If you’re excited about the sound of this, you might want to sit down for the pricing…
A whopping ₹25 lakhs!
But hey, it comes with all the bells and whistles — the chauffeur, a chef, the food, adventures. The whole package.
But the eye-watering price…would you ever shell out so much for a holiday in a bus?
Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood 🎵
Muntazir by Firdaus
Thanks Divyanshu Aggarwal for this lovely recommendation.
Let’s dive in?
What caught our eye this week 👀
Polluting potato chips
Try using potato chips and pollution in the same sentence. Confused?
Well, Madhya Pradesh’s Pollution Control Board (PCB) might be able to help. This week it slapped notices on 19 temporary potato chips manufacturing units for pollution. Apparently, these units don’t have treatment plants and are releasing untreated water into Indore’s water bodies.
Now here’s the thing. Indore’s Kodariya village has close to 100 temporary potato chips manufacturing units, most of them producing dehydrated chips.
Dehydrated snacks or what you call snack pellets (which must be cooked or fried for consumption) require moisture from water to get their final texture. This process releases wastewater that needs to be treated before disposal. Manufacturers also need to get water and air clearances from the PCB to set up shop.
But most of them decide to do without it because they operate just for 3–4 months a year. And incurring capital expenditure to the tune of about ₹10 lakhs isn’t a viable option.
And besides water pollution, there’s a bigger environmental problem with potato chips and other snacks ― packaging.
See, most snack packets are made of three layers of polymer materials that will never decompose. And according to the UN Environment Programme, half of the 400 million tonnes of plastic waste produced every year comes from single-use plastics like potato chips bags. The mismanaged waste ends up in landfills, sparking a polluting chain reaction.
And issuing notices or asking manufacturers to cough up fines does very little to axe the pollution problem. Take PepsiCo for instance. Apart from beverages, PepsiCo also makes Lays.
In 2021, the Central PCB charged a whopping ₹8.7 crore fine on its Indian unit for not taking responsibility for the disposal of the waste it had created. If consumers buy their products and litter, it isn’t a people’s problem. It’s the manufacturer who must take the blame.
But despite the penalty, PepsiCo turned out to be 2022’s top plastic polluter in India as per a plastic pollution report.
See, when you ask a big manufacturer to compensate for damage, they pay up and move on. But with smaller ones like those in Indore, they might force them to shut shop. That also means discouraging local products and hurting the livelihoods of factory workers.
So, what PCBs might need to do instead is sit down with these folks, rope in local governments if needed and chalk out workable ideas. Maybe offer subsidised treatment solutions or common spaces which multiple units can rotationally use.
That could do better than just intimidate small manufacturers to shoo away the snack industry’s pollution problem. What do you think?
The Boiling Frog Syndrome
In 2009, Blackberry commanded a 20% global market share in smartphones. By 2016 it had fallen down to 0% and it lost its crown.
In the 1990s, Blockbuster ruled the video rental market. But it missed the shift to streaming led by Netflix. And in 2010 it filed for bankruptcy.
Why did these companies fail?
Well, one reason could be the legend of ‘Boiling Frog Syndrome’. What’s that, you ask?
Picture this —
What happens when you put a frog in boiling water? It jumps out of course.
But what happens when you put the frog in tepid water & slowly increase the heat? Something unexpected. The frog doesn’t realise what’s going on and eventually boils to its death.
Now while there is no scientific backing for the boiling frog story, it’s used to point out that gradual changes go unnoticed until they become too monumental & cause a significant effect. And many businesses who fail to take note and adapt to the times often die the frog’s death.
In Blackberry’s case, it was the king of the smartphone industry — the sophisticated look, inbuilt emails and qwerty keyboard made it an indispensable status symbol for business people and professionals. Then came the iPhone with the touch-screen. And Blackberry lost the throne.
You see, Blackberry underestimated how quickly the market was shifting. They didn’t think Apple posed any threat — they were confident in their quality & customer loyalty. By the time Blackberry released its own touchscreen mobile, people were already hooked on Apple and the new features it offered. And of course, there were all the Android phones too.
But why did no one pay attention until it was too late?
Because everyone was busy looking at weekly, monthly and quarterly changes. They failed to notice the loss of their competitive advantage over the long term. While others were often innovating, Blackberry stuck to what they thought worked best.
In billionaire investor & businessman Charlie Munger’s words — businesses “often miss a trend that is destiny“ being misled by “tiny changes involving low contrast”.
Do you know of any other brands that have become victims of the Boiling Frog Syndrome?
Money tips 💰
Beware of iceberg spending
Ever thought of saving up for something as grand as a luxury car or something straightforward like an iPhone?
Sure, buying it with your hard-earned money could make you feel ecstatic. But there’s an unforeseen cost most of us invite when we purchase expensive stuff that often requires months and sometimes years of thrifting ― maintenance.
And that could trap you in an iceberg effect.
Imagine you’ve been sincerely saving to buy a car. Luxury After a point, you discover a great deal on a well-maintained used car. You do your research and buy it. But 6 months later, it starts throwing tantrums. It guzzles more fuel than you anticipated, its engine often stalls and it keeps asking for repairs every now and then.
Now, although the initial purchase felt smart you may not have been ready for these extra expenses simply because you missed all the vehicle’s flaws.
And this isn’t true just for second-hand purchases. Let’s talk about the iPhone we mentioned earlier. Damage protection for an expensive device doesn’t come cheap either. And if you crack the screen by accident…the less said the better.
So it’s always wise to thoroughly understand what you’ll involuntarily invite when you buy something like this ― registration and other costs for homes, insurance and fuel costs for luxury vehicles or even customised product costs when you get a fab hair treatment at a salon! That way, you’ll be ready for the additional expenses that accompany your purchases like a shadow.
Readers Recommend 🗒️
The Chernobyl Podcast by Peter Sagal and Craig Mazin
For our recommendations today, we have a podcast where the host Peter Sagal discusses the making of the HBO miniseries Chernobyl with its creator and writer Craig Mazin. They talk about the historical accuracy of the events shown in the series as well as the creative decisions that were made to bring the story to life.
A shout out to our reader Gaurav Kabra for this interesting rec.
With this, it’s wrap-up time.
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