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IKEA to fix Delhi’s Pollution?

On 15th November 2018, the Swedish company IKEA announced that it will be working towards helping India in overcoming one of its biggest woes ‘Air Pollution’. It announced “Better Air Now” initiative under which it will be converting the rice straw (which is traditionally burnt by the Indian farmers) into a renewable raw material for products in India.

As per the company, IKEA is working with suppliers, NGOs and small-scale farmers to procure the rice straw and would create the prototype from the rice straw raw material by the end of 2018. The products will be available in India store by 2019-20.

Given that crop stubble burning in the Northern region of India is the major reason behind the thick blanket of smoke in Delhi NCR especially during winters, converting the stubble into a usable product will definitely help curbing the pollution.

Around the same time, Nestle announced a very innovative and instantly-popular program in Dehradun and Mussoorie, under which the customers can exchange 10 empty packets of Maggi with a free packet of Maggi. Though the company has announced as one of the plastic waste management initiatives, the announcement came after a report by Gati Foundation. The report said that Nestlé’s Maggi, PepsiCo’s Lay’s and Parle’s Frooti are top brand contributing to plastic pollution in hilly areas, as their leftover packets are not disposed off properly in these areas.

Whatever might be the reason, but these innovative initiatives by multinational companies, have resulted in a positive outlook by common person towards them. These news makes us wonder, 'Whether such efforts by the organisations have any impact on commoner'.

Yes! Such efforts have an impact on common people:

  • Positive impact on environment – By collecting rice straw or by exchanging empty packets with a free packet, these companies are creating a positive impact on the environment by reducing pollution.
  • Awareness – Such initiatives serve dual purposes, first reduction in the pollution and second making people aware of the current environmental situation and its gravity. 
  • Pride – Not everyone has the time and resources to work for the betterment of the environment, such initiatives gives them a tool to contribute their bit towards the environment and thus, provides them satisfaction.
  • Encouragement for others – Such initiatives encourage other organisations to work for the people, and adopt a greener approach in their operations and work, thus, creating a domino effect.

No! Such efforts have no impact on common people:

  • Effectiveness of such initiatives is always doubtful as it is difficult to change the core habits of the majority of population in India. People here lack civic and common sense, openly throws garbage on roadsides and pee along it or spit ‘paan or gutka’, thus create pollution (of one kind or other).
  • Feasibility – The cost of operations of such initiatives have to be taken in account before anyone can list down its benefits. No one knows if operating of these initiatives will lead to more pollution or not.
  • Banding – Such initiatives help organisations in branding themselves as a green organisation and benefit from the situation. Not-to-mention about the benefits that they get from the government in the name of CSR activities undertaken.
  • Cover-ups – These initiatives are just the cover-ups for organisations, whose wrong-doing or miss-handling of situations have been reported in a news or studies. Had the organisation been more proactive, they would have incorporated greener practices into their operations and work from the starting. For instance – Nestlé’s exchange of 10 empty packets with one free packet initiative could be termed as a “reactive” initiative taken after the report from Gati Foundation.

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