New Delhi: A report by National Geographic-GlobeScan has ranked Indian consumers as the “greenest” in the world in its latest survey, covering 17,000 consumers across 17 nations.
In the third year of this survey, not only has India retained the top spot it had won last year, but has also increased its “green index”—an overall score awarded by the survey using five environment-related parameters—by 2.1 points since 2009.
The index looks at consumption habits and their environmental impact in the areas of goods, food, housing, transport and attitudes. India’s relatively low-car density and a large “small-car” segment market, its people’s diet, which includes a good deal of fruits and vegetables (with a large population eschewing meat altogether), consumers’ preference for local and self-grown foods over imported goods, have all contributed to the high score.
“India has a good baseline. We are at a stage where our carbon footprint is low due to our sustainable transport practices— high usage of public transport and non-motorized transport,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, transport expert at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), New Delhi.
According to the survey, Indians prefer bikes or scooters or use public transport (81% do so at least once a month), all of which lead to lower emissions. After the Chinese, Indians are the second most likely people in the world to choose to live close to their workplaces.
“The habit of buying groceries from local sabzi mandis (wholesale vegetable market) is widespread in India,” said Kushal Yadav, food and toxins expert at CSE. “In the US, food travels 5,100 miles (8,211 km) on average from farm to fork.”
Living habits also give Indians a green edge. For example, only 38% of Indians are likely to have hot running water in their homes, and most people use energy-saving “on-demand” water heaters.