Shriya Suriyanarayanan came to a point in life when she saw plastic waste all around her. Greatly bothered by this, Chennai-based Shriya, an Engineering graduate from NIT Tiruchi, spent over two years following people and initiatives towards managing plastic waste and sustainability in India.
Today, Shriya is a sustainability consultant.Her podcast, Footprint — A Guide to Sustainable Living, acts as a beginner’s guide to sustainability and has built a listenership of over 40,000 since July 2020.
Season One, which contains 10 episodes, talks about sustainable choices in different aspects of life. From growing one’s own food and zero-waste living to home care, self-care and a career in climate, Shriya’s panel of experts and practitioners offer multiple sustainable solutions.
Hosted on Aawaz.com, the podcast has featured Anuradha Kedia, co-founder of the Better Home Cleaners, which deals with environment-safe home cleaning products; Abhay Rangan, founder of a plant-based dairy company, Goodmylk; and Anshuman Bapna, founder and CEO of Terra.do, an online school working to solve climate change, to name a few.
If there is going to be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans by 2050, it is about time we did something about it, she says in one of the episodes. “Legislative changes around climate change and plastic waste are expected to be implemented over the next few years. There is massive progress and innovation being led by startups, NGOs and individual contributors across India. But we still need to talk about this constantly because consumer demand will drive Government and private sector action.”
Consumer behaviour is something she is optimistic about: “According to Google Trends, search interest in ‘sustainable lifestyles’ has increased over six times in the past year. This means there are people who want to lead a sustainable life, but are not sure how. When I was doing my research on sustainable solutions, I found a wealth of information available, but it was scattered.” The extra time she had during lockdown in 2020 was when she “decided to channel that into something productive and bring all this information together as one comprehensive guide”.
In the right context
Shriya adds that her focus is on the Indian consumer and Indian products. “Indians inherently lead more sustainable lives due to our cultural practices and socio-economic conditions. According to a recent report, India’s per capita plastic consumption is half the global average. But we need to build on that with solutions that are viable in the Indian context. These podcasts help young, urban Indians and families take the next step towards alternative solutions,” she states
While Season One is from an individual’s point of view — on how to lead a sustainable life, Shriya is considering making Season Two from a business perspective. “It could cover issues such as sustainability within larger brands, how does one judge sustainability relatively, ethical and fair manufacturing, trade practices and the like,” she muses.
Shriya admits that a sustainable lifestyle is not a pocket-friendly decision. She explains, however, “It is more expensive today because demand is less and the raw materials costlier. We hope to reach economies of scale soon, so it becomes affordable. But we need to remember that living more sustainably doesn’t mean buying a lot of sustainable products. If you just buy less and use what you have for longer, that’s a great start. Minimalism and sustainability are very closely linked.”