Retailing ‘Green’ Habits!
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