How can you become part of the Green Economy @ World Environmental Day ’12

The tagline for this year’s 40th World Environment Day is “Green Economy: Does it include you?”

For an ordinary person, this may seem a bit complicated. Well, to begin with, it’s a bit complicated to define what Green Economy is. UNEP defines it as one that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one which is low carbonresource efficient and socially inclusive.

So…one might ponder. What do I have to do with it? How does it effect my work, my life, my family, my income, my security? Isn’t this the job of the government to manitain social equity along with low-carbon, resource-efficient economy – whatever that means.

For people who read about environment, who write about sustainable issues, who are in the field  – in other words, “the already converts” are the ones who actually understand this definition and know what needs to be done to reach this wonderfully exotic and safe haven of Green or Green-er economy. It is more like preaching to the choir.

And when we boil it down to a single day of actions and celebrations like this World Environment Day or The Earth Day, we inherently build a backfire button into them.

So, does it mean “I will not put on the car AC on my way to work today?” – I am a concerned citizen and care for my planet…so goes the thinking. And the argument is “What if everybody does it?” Well, everybody knows that everybody will never do it. And that is premise of the whole argument.

There’s a famous law called the “Pareto’s Law” named after an economist of the same name. This law is more commonly known as the “80/20 rule”. You will wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. 80% of your business will be given by 20% of your clients. Or, 80%  of the results come from 20% of the efforts.

So, 80% of the changes we want in the environment, sustainable practices, consumer behavior and choices will flow from the 20% of those who have the maximum impact in bringing that change. In other words, if all the high-impact (carbon) companies of the world come together to reduce their C-footprint by half in next 5-10 years, the world would’ve solved its challenge of the century.

While it is all well and good to let this environmental awareness permeate into the masses and the next generation who will inherit this planet, but it is the companies that impact the choices what consumers make. And if they give low-carbon choice, then guess what, that is what the consumer will buy and reward. Period.

So it is not a surprise that UNEP thinks there are 10 important sectors that would make a different in our race for a Greener Planet – Buildings, Fisheries, Forestry, Transport, Water, Agriculture, Energy Supply, Tourism, Waste, and Manufacturing and Industry. Millions of jobs can be created in this Green Economy era. Old industries will be gone and new industries will take shape. In other words, what we call Green Economy today will be “business as usual” tomorrow. That is the aim, isn’t it?

But coming back to this year’s theme of Green Economy, in a way, each one of us in included in it – but we don’t want to. Here are 5 things that is in our control to make us part of the Green Economy:

  • Refuse to take stuff put in the plastic bags from local retailers
  • Separate your household waste at home by having 2 garbage cans – one for all burnable rubbish, other for non-burnable (plastic, cans etc.)
  • While picking a product of the shelf, care to see if it carries any Eco-label on it. Buy only those product where ever possible
  • Stop eating junk food. Trust me, this one action alone will have huge carbon reduction impact while keeping you healthy
  • Learn a bit about what your favorite brands are doing in the sustainability space and reward them accordingly

But here’s what you must not do – carpool, switch off your AC (home/car), plant a tree, use less water for bath…such initiatives are hard on one’s conscience, riding on the guilt factor. They look and feel good, but are unsustainable by their sheer nature.

What else do you think one can do to be a part of the Green Economy…that is doable – not this Environment Day, but for the rest of your life?

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