Today, consumers can buy sustainable products, stay in sustainable hotels, eat sustainable foods, and use sustainable cleaning products. While this greening of the market is a good thing, it is not actually solving the root problems it was meant to address. Our world continues to become less, not more, sustainable. When you buy from a green store you are actually what is today a new category of LOHAS consumers (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability). This is a segment that considers environmental attributes in purchasing decisions. It is a trillion dollar market already in the world.
There is another challenge that could spell opportunity for you all into the future. Issues like combating hunger, protecting freshwater sources, overcoming poverty. Putting a human face to slum settlements in your cities, taking local technologies to villages to create bio-energy from oilseeds, enabling farmers to create zero cycles on plants, mulch, oilcakes, fertilizers and seeds with models that can be replicated – that is another great opportunity that is awaiting you all.
There is one group from Berhampur keen on working in and around Wardha with cotton farmers and cottonseeds to create a local oil economy. Are there some of you who would be interested in taking this up?
There will be some of you who would want to move into powerful advocacy roles. Simply telling the story as it is, and stirring the conscience of consumers or companies is a great role to play. For example, the aspiration of some very large companies to grow without considering nature’s limits is likely to be a major stumbling block for positive sustainability endeavors for India of the future. How do you appeal to them? What is the forum you create to reason, to persuade and to battle for legislative change. How do you get consumers to turn down creative campaigns of such companies and make concerted efforts to take the message to people. Use of cottonseed oil in the making of pickles for example. Or the use of lead in lipstick making.