To begin with, let me recall some very nice experiences from the lockdown period that reconnected me to nature and reminded me of my early childhood days. Clear blue skies, clean waters in the Yamuna, rare species of birds chirping around our home balcony, peacocks on our rooftop, me and my daughter engaging in stargazing and admiring sunrises, children in the neighbourhood cheering at the rainbow, almost zero levels of noise pollution… none of these things seemed possible in Delhi, which apparently had one of the worst pollution levels in the world. 

The Ideas Series

…The lockdown period and the many don’ts that we continued to follow subsequently have been an eye-opener, telling us that less is sufficient and that we had merely got used to excess in most things. Imagine, we had even got used to air pollution! Faced with a stay-home-or-risk-your-life situation, many of us fell back on what we had all but forgotten – our creativity and our instinct to find joys in the little things. Sure, there was restlessness, worry and fear, but these happened alongside a different sort of unravelling of our minds which made us see things we had forgotten to notice. Rainbows for example, or rivers and blue skies. The music that happens in nature when the sound of traffic dies out. There were reports of sightings of animals in our otherwise urban jungles.

Maybe these were signs that it wasn’t too late yet. Too late for what, some may be wondering. Well, too late to turn back the clock on an environmental disaster that has been in the making through the decades of decadence and will someday choke us human beings out of existence. Sure, it’s not going to be you and me or even our children, but what about their children and their children’s children? Does the possibility of their existence in a cold world not disturb us, or does it sound dystopian, the stuff of science fiction… Read the full introduction to the series here.

In an effort to understand what leaders at various organisations are doing towards making a sustainable world a reality, CauseBecause reached out to them and asked what they can do to make sustainable living a way of life and how do they see their role as individuals as well as leaders in organisations. The participants include:

Anirban Ghosh, Mahindra
Gayatri Divecha, Godrej
Rajiv Williams, Jindal Stainless
Ramji Raghavan, Agastya International
Rashmi Soni, Vistara
Shalini Singh, Tata Power
Vijay Sethi, Hero MotoCorp
Vikram Gulati, Toyota Kirloskar Motor

Such experiences have inspired many of us to nurture, rather save, the environment —in whatever small and big ways we can. First and foremost, we need to understand our direct connection with nature and ensure that each individual around us – family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, even acquaintances – are on the same page. This can be done by bringing climate change and environment into our everyday conversations, sharing necessary information and updates, and talking more about how each one of us has to do something and take those first few steps rather than thinking it to be someone else’s job. 

I believe that all kinds of pollution, the carbon emissions that are increasing the Earth’s temperature, the plastics and chemicals that are in the food chain, and all such threats to our wellbeing can be countered by a few individual efforts that may not necessarily be heroic. For example, one can start giving a second thought to the everyday buying decisions. Apart from considering if we really need to buy the thing, we can also start looking at other elements such as the packaging, the material that it is made of, where it usually ends up (both the product and the packaging), and so on. Meanwhile, it will be worth all our while to find out if there are other ecofriendly alternatives. The three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – may sound cliched by now but it is the first principle that each individual must adopt.

Another seemingly minor but very effective change that we all can bring about at our homes is minimising wastage of water, electricity, fuel, cooking gas, etc., through simple efforts like plugging leakages, getting star-rated appliances, switching off lights and appliances when not being used, etc. We also have the choice to cut down on unnecessary travel and drive in a manner that reduces fuel consumption. 

Going forward, go out and plant a tree whenever possible – be it a birthday or any  other occasion in the family. I believe in the Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. Similarly, do nurture plants around your home. 

–As leaders/decision makers

Over the years, our platinum-rated green manufacturing facilities and well-planned CSR initiatives have made Hero MotoCorp one of the most sustainable two-wheeler manufacturing companies in the country. Our multiple initiatives across the value chain to reduce energy and carbon, water and waste footprints have been successful in creating and delivering great value.

In the last financial year, the company reduced absolute energy consumption by ~10 per cent, thereby positively impacting carbon emissions, while absolute water consumption was reduced by ~4 per cent. By 2019–20, three of our plants – Dharuhera, Gurgaon and Global Parts Centre in Neemrana – achieved Zero Waste to Landfill (ZWL) certification for diversion rates of more than 99%. Our solar footprint increased to 7.7 MW of installed capacity. Going forward, our long-term vision is to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Talking of recently made sustainability decisions, the first decision that was a necessity during the lockdown and continues to be the norm is allowing the majority of our workforce to work from home. While we all know the pros from the environmental point of view, we have realised that the decision has increased the overall efficiency and deliverability of employees. All those apprehensions with regard to productivity have been proven wrong. It is now that everybody at Team Hero, regardless of which generation they belong to, is realising the power of information and communication technology and of course the attendant environmental benefits of the same, and is making optimum use of the same.

Vijay Sethi is Chief Information Officer, Chief HR Officer, & Head CSR, Hero MotoCorp

Another aspect that we have been focusing on is the state of mental health of all our stakeholders. The coronavirus pandemic has been stressful for everybody and fear and anxiety about the disease as well as the economic meltdown that followed the lockdown have been quite overwhelming. In times like these, strong emotions are quite natural and to tackle the same, a balanced state of mind and positive attitude and energy are a must. In an effort to reach out to all stakeholders and keep them motivated with positive vibes as well as practical solutions, we have had mental health experts conducting sessions on various relevant topics. A mobile application and a support helpline have been made operational and such measures will continue to be a part of the policies that focus on the wellbeing of our employees and other stakeholders.