Jai Mohanka is a budding change-maker in the field of renewable energy. Just 17 years old, at a very tender age, Jai established himself as a child prodigy, bagging two design registrations (intellectual property) from the Patents Office of India for innovations in solar modules and machines.
At the dawn of the 21st century, the world witnessed the emergence of a generation like no other – Generation Z, or Gen Z for short. Born between 1997 and 2012, these digital natives have grown up in a world marked by unprecedented technological advancements, cultural shifts, and environmental crises. According to a survey, a staggering 82% of Gen Z individuals express concern about the state of the planet. For them, environmental problems are not distant abstractions but pressing issues that demand immediate attention.
Because of growing awareness, Renewable energy, E-Vehicles, Products made with sustainable practices, Brands made from Recycled material have been targeted to Gen Z and are at the forefront of growing consciousness in their minds. But, at the same time 2 things have been observed –
- Companies are Greenwashing and hence there is no clarity on whether the product is actually meeting the required criteria of sustainability. Sustainability has become such an oft used word that it has led to some degree of apathy of GenZ towards it. They no longer know if it’s the right thing that they are going in for.
- In an informal survey in my peer group, I found most of them understood its importance and impact but when it came to purchasing a product themselves or influencing their family about buying anything, sustainability was not an overriding factor for any purchasing decision that they were making or influencing. I realized that lack of customer pull for sustainable products was a glaring gap and would hinder its adoption.
This was also evident in the Rooftop Solar Programme in India , where the adoption rates have been found to be very low compared to the rest of the Renewable Energy programs for businesses and industries.
At an enquiry level, the consumers are curious to know about Solar Rooftop , but after initial enquiry, the demand seems to taper away due to lack of sustained customer pull towards sustainability.
For mainstream adoption of renewable energy and other sustainable products, we need to target – Gen Z and for this they need to be marketed to and be given a Trusted source of certification that cuts across products and brands & ensures that it is complying to highest levels of sustainability.
For example – Think of the BEE (Bureau of Energy Efficiency) star label which is an independent certifying authority. It ensures that customers buying any consumer-durable, light, fan item knows how energy efficient it is through the BEE 1 -5 Star system. All consumer durable brands get themselves certified and star-labelled through BEE and advertise it on their products. The consumers know that they are not falling for false advertising and prefer to buy BEE Star Labelled products.
It would be really good for sustainability industry, if we could create an independent label like a “ Sustainability Tag” which would certify genuine sustainable practices, preventing Greenwashing by companies. The Sustainability tag lists the parameters across products , brands and certifies them on the compliance of degree of sustainable practices that the product complies to during manufacturing, usage, after sales service, disposal. It should rate whether the product or brand is part of the circular economy. This sustainability tag should be heavily marketed to Gen Z and end consumers so that they know that when they are going for a product, or paying a premium for a product , it complies to the core values of sustainability.
If we could link this to a financial credit system, where its easier for consumers to get loans or get preferential interest rates or easier access to finance if they purchase products with sustainability tags then this will drive the adoption of products & brands with sustainable use faster. This will also help in accelerating usage of sustainable practices like purchasing solar rooftops for homes, electric vehicles and will drive the usage.
Gen Z doesn’t stop at consumer choices; they are actively engaged in advocacy and activism for sustainability. Social media has become a powerful platform for this generation to raise awareness about environmental issues, organize protests, and hold both individuals and corporations accountable for their actions. If we give them the necessary tools like “Sustainability Tag” for them to help make decisions based on sustainability, time is not far away when the entire world will be factoring this important aspect in their assessments.