Chennaiites more environment-conscious, but lack options to act: Mahindra Survey

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on November 21, 2019

File photo   -  The Hindu

If you are a Chennaiite, take a moment and pat yourself on the back for your climate consciousness and environmental awareness. Nearly 97 percent of Chennaiites describe themselves as ‘aware’ of the issue of climate change as compared to the national average of 80 per cent, a recent study conducted by the Mahindra Group revealed.

But before you bask in the glory for too long, the study also made another revelation which might take the wind out of your sails. The Mahindra Group’s inaugural ‘Alternativism’ report also revealed that only 17 per cent of the people surveyed in the city choose the most environment-friendly options when making daily decisions while the national average stood at 27 per cent.

The research revealed the disparity levels between environmental awareness and daily behaviour. But the report also offered some explanation for the contradiction which offers some comfort. The principal explanation for the contradiction is the absence of affordably priced environment-friendly products that offer the same level of performance and quality as existing products.

“We are pleasantly surprised that (environment) awareness level of consumers are phenomenally high and people want to do the right thing if they have the alternatives available to them,” Anirban Ghosh, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mahindra Group told BusinessLine after publishing the report here on Thursday.

Mahindra’s Alternativism report was based on face-to-face interviews with 2,006 respondents across five cities including Chennai, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata. The interviews were conducted by Mumbai-based Innovative Research Services (India) during July and August 2019.

The report also highlighted that 90 percent of Chennai-based respondents claim to be ‘concerned’ about the risks that single use plastics pose to the environment (compared to 75 per cent nationally) and 69 per cent of Chennaiites claim to be ‘aware and informed’ about the environmental issues of water conservation (against 70 per cent nationally).

Ironically though, only 26 per cent of Chennaiites consider the environmental effect as a priority when choosing their mode of transport while the remaining 74 per cent cited comfort and convenience, time and cost as more important criteria. At the national level, the figures stood at 13 and 87 per cent, respectively.

The report further highlighted that 71 per cent of respondents believe that eco-friendly alternatives are either too expensive, not on a par with regular products or simply don’t exist at all.

Ghosh said that the message is unequivocally clear that businesses should take up the environmental baton and bring unconventional solutions to address the environmental issues and the government should play a role of an enabler through funding and encourage local community participation.

“The government already has participatory rural development programme and I see no reason why the same should not be applied to urban areas as well,” Ghosh said. He also highlighted various initiatives taken by the Mahindra Group in promoting greener options across its businesses including e-mobility solutions, green buildings and micro irrigation technology.

Published on November 21, 2019

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