A simple question: What is more eco friendly? Taking your notes on a book or typing it up on a laptop?
Simple is hardly the word to describe this. There are a lot of factors one needs to consider before coming up to a valid answer. So is the case with any of the lifestyle choices one makes. Some of the factors that are needed to be taken into consideration are the raw materials and their source of procurement; the production methodology – how ecological conscious it is compared to it’s alternatives and how close is it to the best possible methodology existing, the packaging, transportation; the environmental damage (or sometimes benefit) caused by usage of the product and finally the waste created and effective disposal systems existing to address them.
An average citizen, even a fairly informed citizen do not have all this information to make an environmentally conscious choice in his lifestyle, however enlightened he may be on the perils of climate change. This is a significant factor in fighting not only climate change but further more issues like ground water depletion, ocean acidification, ozone depletion and so on. This is like a strong weapon that can aid in this fight is missing from the warriors who are ready to fight. But, the biggest hurdle in this approach is the collection, analysis and dissemination of this information in a way it is comprehendible to majority of consumers. Combined with low levels of literacy, large volume of consumption in rural economies, difference in waste management facilities available in different parts of the country are factors that can defeat the purpose of this approach. Further it also highly skews on the usage method and disposal practices the consumer follows on which the ecological impact of the product really depends upon.
Governments of the world are now more than ever concerned about tackling environmental issues and primarily climate change. From the stinging statements of Greta Thunberg to unrelenting protests by groups like Existence Rebellion; the world and the country; its people and the government are undoubtedly taking efforts for a better environment. The recent pandemic, coupled with research showing correlation between zoonotic deceases and ecological damage further strengthens motivation for action. Our government’s effort has taken a line unlike the conventional methods. From programs of Swach Bharat to Plastic Ban, there can be seen an equal responsibility being held on the people as well. While there is criticism that such an approach is a passive one by the government, only such approaches can truly bring a sustainable and lasting difference. Every revolution and major change in the world’s history was only possible with people’s active participation. Why will a revolution for a cleaner environment be any different?
Hence, apart from all the hurdles it has, an active participation by the people in their lifestyle will be a quintessential factor in curbing climate change. This is possible only with some strategic steps by the government in two areas. Disseminating the information which makes people take more ecologically conscious steps and Enlightening the citizens on the importance of making such decisions. Government is the ideal body to collect the exhaustive data from the corporates and production units which will give this information on the environmental friendliness index. Further there should an index developed which can disseminate this information in a simple and comparable manner. Such an index should also be dynamically changed with changing technology, research and infrastructural development. Enlightening the citizens need far reaching campaigns on the importance of this index.
Such an index will bring multifold benefits in further benefiting the struggle. It primarily brings a means to the people to actively make a contribution to the environment. Further it will bring a means to analyse the patterns of consumption in environmental contexts and prioritise the issues which policies need to address. Further it gives an incentive to the companies to adapt more eco friends production methods. It acts as a buffer to the eco friendly products with a higher price tag to compete with cheaper market alternatives.
The government will have a gradient chart to peg different taxation methods and manufacturing limits on. Also pressure on government to provide better waste collection, management and recycling units will be eventually made by the corporates to push their index ratings. This will also bring incentives and fundings to private waste recycling units like bio fuel manufacturers, compost manufacturers, plastic, metal and glass repurposing units, etc as they are helping increase index of their counterpart firms from where these wastes are being generated. Transparency in functioning is central to a democratic country where people make informed changes. Transparency in the environmental impact of the dozens of products we use everyday will be no different.