Re­tail­ing ‘Green’ Habits!

Point of Purchase - - COLUMN -

the bot­tom of my chil­dren’s wardrobe, there is a large drawer. It is used to store old clothes and plas­tic shop­ping bags col­lected from the var­i­ous stores around the city, to be reused when the need arises. In the pantry next to the kitchen, there is a large plas­tic carry bag in which we stuff plas­tic pouches of vary­ing sizes and plas­tic gro­cery bags. Th­ese are used as trash bags or for anything that needs to be stored in a pouch. Last Sunday, we ate de­li­cious parathas at lunch which, I then dis­cov­ered, were made from the left­overs from the Fri­day din­ner party. At meal­times, we ex­hort our chil­dren to fin­ish what’s on their plate. Ev­ery day the old news­pa­pers and mag­a­zines are neatly stacked in sep­a­rate heaps in a corner of our apart­ment. Th­ese stacks are dili­gently sold to the ‘rad­di­wala’ for a cou­ple of hun­dred ru­pees, ev­ery month. We give all th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties space in our homes and time and at­ten­tion in our lives. They are our way of liv­ing. We don’t call them re­duc­ing food waste, seg­re­gat­ing trash for re­cy­cle and re­use, re­duc­ing our car­bon foot­print, green liv­ing and so on. We don’t give th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties any name be­cause they aren’t sep­a­rate from the rest of our lives. Th­ese new terms have emerged from the West where hugely waste­ful so­ci­eties are strug­gling to change habits and prac­tices as the real­i­sa­tion dawns that we are liv­ing on a grad­u­ally warm­ing planet where re­sources are get­ting scarcer. Waste and moder­nity are al­most syn­ony­mous, it ap­pears. Moder­nity is ac­com­pa­nied by con­ve­nience, which is al­most al­ways de­rived from habits that are waste­ful. Fortunately, in In­dia, we are still not fully ‘mod­ern’. We still be­lieve in sim­ple and thrifty liv­ing, and don’t mind put­ting in ef­fort to prop­a­gate such a life­style. Not our chil­dren. With the on­slaught of new age in­flu­ences, they are be­com­ing more and more dis­tant from such habits and con­sider them old-fash­ioned and ‘fuddy-duddy’. Fact is, many times, they don’t make sense in their cur­rent form. In the last ten years moder­nity has wrought many changes in In­dia. Entertainment, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, hol­i­day­ing, fash­ion, re­tail have all en­tered a new phase. The old way of do­ing things in all th­ese sec­tors have been trans­formed. Will the tra­di­tional ways of han­dling waste also be sim­ply dis­con­tin­ued as our chil­dren en­ter the mod­ern age? If so, will it not be a calamity for In­dia? Al­ready pol­lu­tion is ris­ing to dan­ger­ous lev­els. Dis­card­ing the nat­u­ral ten­dency to­wards thrift in favour of a more ‘mod­ern’ life­style will in­crease it even fur­ther. So while In­dia has no choice but to em­brace moder­nity, there is a choice we can make to re­tain some good prac­tices, while in­te­grat­ing them into a mod­ern life­style. Mod­ern re­tail in In­dia has been a cat­a­lyst for change. It has trans­formed many things ur­ban Indians are do­ing, rapidly. The way we dis­cover fash­ion, buy clothes, toys, even the hum­ble cau­li­flower, has changed dra­mat­i­cally. Can this mod­erni­sa­tion in shop­ping habits be some­how linked to go­ing ‘green’?

Damodar Mall, Direc­tor – Food Strat­egy, Fu­ture Group

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