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BW Businessworld

Sustainability: The Way To Future

Sustainability is becoming a mindset and being amplified due the global Covid-19 pandemic

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The Covid 19 crisis has triggered mayhem in the global economy and has disrupted the healthcare infrastructure of the most developed countries. However, environmental experts believe that this is the only time in the last few decades when we have witnessed enhanced quality of nature around us. Surprising but true. 

Commuting to work, shopping in malls, sitting at a coffee shop or going to the gym are all examples of things many of us did in our usual daily lives. But with restrictions on these activities and overall travel ban across borders, the energy consumption and emissions are reduced significantly, and as a result we have cleaner air and fresher water bodies.

While the circumstances and consequences caused by the Covid-19 are distressing, they exemplify how quickly behaviour and actions can change when push comes to shove. The pandemic has created a need for all organisations — globally to ponder upon their sustainable strategies and revamp them. Sustainability has to be integrated with all business processes and aims at the wellbeing of companies’ stakeholders.

Changing Ways 

The past few years have seen many big corporates taking their sustainability practices earnestly. A huge part of their CSR budgets are devoted to make them sustainable in the long run. Infosys, a leader in next-generation digital services, recently released its 13th Annual Sustainability Report, which details how the company has been incorporating sustainability in all its operations. The company has undertaken various policy changes to accommodate remote working and made arrangements to ensure safety and comfort of employees across its campuses. The framed guidelines have enabled employees to work from home and sensitised them about the aspects of confidentiality, data privacy and cyber threats.

Similarly, Volvo Car India, ranked among the top automakers, has also integrated sustainability in its culture and DNA and has made sure that its leaders move forward by setting an example. The brand envisions for its future to become fully carbon neutral by the year 2025, and also to manufacture 50 per cent fully electric Volvo cars. It has set an inspiring example in its space and has led the way for other brands as well.

The Changemakers

The younger generation too recognises environment and sustainability all over the world, and are participating in civic activism to have their voices heard. They have been successful in creating mass awareness campaigns about several issues that have engulfed our society. One such young activist, who has now become a household name owing to her commendable efforts for climate change, is Greta Thunberg. The 17-year-old Swedish girl came to limelight when she started criticising world leaders for their ineffective policies and inaction on climate change.  She has inspired more than 4 million people to join a global climate movement. Leading her to create a global attitudinal shift and transforming millions of mindsets into calling a worldwide movement for urgent change. She has offered a moral call to those who are willing to act, and has openly shamed those who are not. She has persuaded leaders, from Mayors to Presidents, to actively work for the cause of climate change. 

India is also blessed with some great changemakers, who are doing commendable work for environment and have created a surge for sustainability with their efforts. One such great leader is Swami Prem Parivartan, or Peepul Baba as he is commonly known. He is credited for planting 12 million trees in the country and has repeatedly urged the corporate sector to actively participate in creating a green India. Recently, while participating in a BW Businessworld webinar, Peepul Babu emphasised on green India and said: “We cannot wait for the government to do everything; it’s our life, health and wellness too. We have spent crores trying to clean up the Ganga, but nature has shown that if human intervention is not there, nature can take care of itself. In these two months of the lockdown, the Ganga has become sparkling clean.”

Another exemplary leader, who has devoted his life for environment and has helped in transforming the lives of lakhs of people of Rajasthan, is Dr Rajendra Singh, also famously called the Waterman of India. He is attributed this name for doing praiseworthy work in protecting the green cover, reviving water levels and improving the fertility of arid lands across India. He has helped build 8,000 water tanks in over 1,000 villages in the dry state of Rajasthan. Some parts of Rajasthan that were once completely barren, now have a good forest cover and wildlife too. 

Fashion & Personal Care

Not only big companies or global corporations but smaller businesses, startups and individuals too have realised the need of inculcating sustainable practices. The pandemic has further reinforced this need. An upcoming fashion brand, which has sustainability at its core, is Happy Mimosa. The focus of the brand is on sustainable and wholesome approach towards fashion and design. It aims to be a champion of slow fashion, and want to challenge the notion that sustainable fashion is uninspiring. Caring for the environment and being able to deliver unique fashion merchandise is indeed challenging.

The younger generation too recognises environment and sustainability all over the world

Contributing to India’s major boost of ethical and sustainable cosmetics movement is a toxin-free personal care brand Mamaearth. It has been certified cruelty-free by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The brand is all natural and has established itself as one of the top toxin-free brands of India. The cruelty-free certification is validation from PETA that the brand does not conduct any animal tests. In the midst of this global shift, it is encouraging to see that an Indian cosmetic brand has managed to create a niche for itself in a short span of time that too in a highly competitive market space. 

Architectural Sustainability 

A breath-taking example of how a corporate building is built on the principle of conserving resources is that of PWC LLP in London. The building incorporates a range of energy saving strategies. In addition to a high-performance façade designed to offer shade and insulation, it features solar hot water panels, green roofs and fully automated building management and metering systems. A Combined Cooling Heating & Power (CCHP) tri-generation plant provides a low carbon source of cooling, heat and power and has resulted in 55 per cent less CO2 emissions than that required under the 2006 Part L2 Building Regulations. 

Being sustainable is more than just ensuring you look after the environment. It’s about making a conscious effort to change your lifestyle choices and to help conserve resources. From big corporates and startups to fashion and cosmetic products, sustainability has found its place in every sphere. The new found focus on environmental and social wellbeing should not
 be quickly forgotten once we are permitted to move freely and revive our normal lives back. Covid-19 has simply led to speeding up the process of sustainability. 

Leading authorities also need to come forward and provide full support in making sustainability a way of life for the citizens of the country. The gift of nature is precious and it is high time that we realise the repercussions of our deeds or else it will not shy away in hurting us back.