We're the Greenest Consumers!

According to the Greendex, an annual study of sustainable consumption, conducted by NGC and GlobeScan, Indian consumers are the greenest among the 17 countries considered for this study. This study was started in 2008 and in that year, India had ranked second behind Brazil. For the second year in a row, the country which fared worst in this index is ... surprise, surprise ... the USA.

On a related note, I calculated my own Greendex score using the Greendex calculator and was surprised to find that it was a healthy 59 – especially considering the fact that I drive a car to work everyday – all alone!

Those were the facts and figures. Now, my take on the matter.

One does not need to be Einstein to figure out that consumption patterns in India are, on the whole, way more environment-friendly than those in the West. Maybe in several orders of magnitude. But it is surprising that India is at the top spot. I mean it may be true that we are environment-friendly by choice or by force. For example,

  • Our low per-capita incomes do not allow us to drive big cars, thereby preventing us from committing the sin of unnecessarily high fuel consumption.

  • For the same reason as above, we are primarily dependent on public transport for getting from point A to point B. Even in case of private transport, two-wheelers form the overwhelming majority.

  • Air conditioning is not really wide-spread and room heaters are not necessary in central and southern parts of India.

That was just a sample, there are several other points to consider like water consumption/wastage, food production etc.

But the reason I am surprised at India's top position is that there do exist several inefficiencies in our system. For example,

  • The cooking and emission setup used in the rural hinterland is extremely inefficient in terms of fuel (wood) consumption and at the same time, is also extremely polluting.

  • Our vehicles, particularly the public transport vehicles, are ill-maintained. This holds for industrial machinery too. Consequently, the efficiency and emissions both start deteriorating during the life of the equipment.

  • Urban India is over-dependent on plastic – mainly the “carry-bags” used for shopping. This is a heinous carbon-sin committed by India (not to mention the non-biodegradable-ness of the plastic)

  • With a burgeoning middle-class, in the recent years, Earth-unfriendly elements like air-conditioning and big cars are gaining ground especially on the urban Indian scene. The bigger problem here is we tend to use some creature comfort simply because it exists. The best illustration of this point is the A/C. How many of us use the A/C (whether in the car or at home) only when it is really hot as against switching on the A/C first thing when we enter our cars or our rooms?

Well apparently, the negatives which I pointed out above form a relatively small number in the final analysis. Lets celebrate this good news by resolving to continue this leadership in Earth-friendly consumption. And, at the same time, lets also resolve to address the negatives before they spiral out of control.

(Green)Peace be upon you!

6 comments to We're the Greenest Consumers!

  • that's good news for India.

  • That's really a great news. I am happy that I could contribute to it by switching off my car at almost every signal I see these days. No matter how small duration the RED is. Thanks to the adds being displayed recently in the TV channels. I just hope that many peoples get motivated to do as much as they can to remain GREEN.

  • yayaee! GO INDIA !!!!

    n plastic bags and paper consumption isi VERY VERY high in the Us of A !!!

  • @JSincro: Oh yes it is! :)

    @PC: You are right - these seemingly small contributions from each and every one of us will definitely go a long way in saving the planet!
    Although one thing here - I remember watching a TV program which mentioned that switching off the car is only good of there is a wait of approx 30 seconds or more. This is because the initial cranking of the engine takes up quite a bit of fuel.

    @Pavi: At least paper bags are used for grocery-shopping in US. Add 10 points to the bio-degradable score. Not so here in India. We use plastic for anything and everything. I remember there was an article of how this plastic ends up poisoning/suffocating the street cattle who chew on the plastic from garbage bins!

  • @kiran: Ur mistaken. paper bags are availabe for use in USA..just like how they are avlbl in india.. but most people use the plastic bags only.

  • @Pavi: Oops .. thanks for pointing that out. That teaches me not to always form my opinions based on what I see on TV :)

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. All the views and opinions expressed on this blog are entirely my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, organization, relatives, friends, acquaintances or any other person/entity.