For over a century now, humans have been experiencing development. Global average life expectancy has more than doubled, from ~30 years in 1900 to 70+ today. The global economy is around 80 times larger than it was in 1900. In this period of life-altering inventions and discoveries, there have been step changes in every industry – and many new industries have been spawned. In the process, however, we’ve taken natural resources for granted.
The way in which we adopted new technology showed that we’ve prioritised convenience over consequence.
We are now at a stage where we are many times more prosperous than a century ago, have a much higher chance of living a long life, enjoy more opportunities than ever, across the spectrum – and yet, the olden days are still viewed with a golden hue. The latest UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report states that greenhouse gas emissions grew at an average of 1.6% per year between 2008 and 2017. It further adds that with the policies currently in place, the world is heading for a 3.5°C temperature increase this century compared to pre-industrial levels. This is way above the 1.5?C rise that scientists believe will be a sustainable level for people on earth.
It is very clear that we need to reboot the world and do things differently. There is a nagging feeling that the regular people of the world are not aware of this problem – and that even if they are, they are not willing to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle. However, a pan-India survey commissioned by the Mahindra Group in 2019 – set to be published later in 2020 – revealed otherwise:
Unfortunately though, this is not matched by actual behaviour. Despite concern for the environment, only a quarter of the respondents found suitable alternatives to help lead a greener life. While 88% of the respondents believed that is was due to the lack of affordable eco-friendly alternatives, 89% believed that they would be able to address climate change more actively if companies offered them alternative solutions. The study reveals that:
The biggest barrier to sustainability is no longer consumer awareness or attitudes – the challenge lies in the availability of alternatives that are sustainable, viable and affordable.
This is what makes sustainability the biggest business opportunity for this generation. And the pursuit of ‘alternativism’ is a key solution to the climate problem. But, alternativism is not only about adopting solutions when they are available; it is also about adopting practices that are already available. And here are 10 easy-to-adopt ideas to help you get started right away –
1. Turn off lights when not required
2. Turning off taps, ensure there are no leakages, and use water-efficient taps to prevent wastage
3. Install dual-flush systems
4. Avoid hoarding; ensure that clothes are used and not just kept in the wardrobe
5. Recycle old clothes
6. Cook, and serve as much as one can eat – this will ensure low to zero wastage of food
7. Actively look for and use alternatives for plastic – cloth and paper bags for shopping, aluminium foil and tiffins for packing food
8. Segregate waste at home
9. Refrain from littering public spaces
10. Use public transport wherever possible; drive less, and hire electric vehicles wherever possible
This is not to say that new low-carbon solutions are not required. Flexible solar films, powerful and low-cost batteries, easy ways of using hydrogen, bio-fuel, net-positive buildings, and alternatives to conventional plastic are just some of the solutions waiting to happen. The survey shows that people are ready to adopt new solutions – and while companies like ours actively work towards researching, developing and creating alternative solutions, we all as citizens can build momentum right away by nudging each other towards adopting the solutions that are already available.
This article originally appeared World Economic Forum
ARTICLE BY :
Anirban is the Chief Sustainability Officer at the Mahindra Group. He has been a speaker at COP25, The Climate Week, World Circular Economy Forum, to name a few. He has, in partnership with the World Bank, facilitated the creation of the Sustainable Housing Leadership Consortium to accelerate the spread of green buildings in India.