Slash carbon footprint, get discounts on goods

New Delhi: Cutting back on travelling, using renewable bio-fuels, thinking twice before firing up that laptop are among activities that can not just contribute to greening the planet but could get you also hefty discounts on trendy apparel and other major branded goods.

Following international trends, stores in India are waking up to `carbon nuetral` stores in which customers are able to redeem "credits" accumulated through the purchase of environment friendly products for discounts.

In a new initiative, leading footwear and apparell brand Woodland is all set to go "carbon neutral" in 80 of its stores in Delhi-NCR and Karnataka.

Being carbon neutral means having a net zero carbon footprint, or achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount offset, or buying enough carbon credits (tradable certificate or permit representing the right to emit 1 tonne of CO2) to make up the difference.

Companies can go carbon neutral by reducing CO2 emissions associated with transportation, energy production and industrial processes.

"We want all our stores to be carbon neutral retail chain by 2015, by adopting more environment-friendly measures including planting of saplings all over the country. 2-3 per cent of our profits (around Rs 10 crores) is earmarked for such eco-friendly initiatives every year," says Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland Worldwide.

The retail chain will also spread awareness among its customers and encourage them to exchange their carbon credits with discounts upto 15-20 per cent on Woodland products.

Harkirat Singh, of Woodland Worldwide says, "We are encouraging our customers to go `green`. Our target group is youngsters between 16-24 years who are very informed and concerned about the environment," says Singh.

Singh says he urges customers to not only go green but also purchase products from companies that follow same motto. "Once, they buy environment friendly products and collect a carbon credit, they can come and submit it at our store, where we will give them discounts based on the credits. This way we are expecting to collect around 450 carbon credits, thereby doing our bit in helping the environment," says Amol Dhillan, Vice-President, Strategy & Planning, Woodland India.

NextGen, Bangalore based Energy and Environment Company, is in the process of calculating the level of carbon emissions from electricity used at stores, diesel consumption of generators and fuel burnt by the Woodland staff for commuting.

"We will balance the measured amount of carbon released by planting trees, using environment friendly techniques at our manufacturing units, such as solar power," says Amol.

As the first part of the initiative, a comprehensive carbon accounting has been done for the chain of Woodland stores in Karnataka and Delhi-NCR region to calculate the carbon footprint of each store through its retail operations.

The calculated footprint for NCR region has come out to be 2,000 metric tonnes while for Karnataka it is 1,000 metric tonnes.

"Since solar water heaters are mandatory in Karnataka, our campaign will encourage customers to pledge their emission reductions for every solar water heater they use. Ond doing so each customer using a solar geyser will be gratified with a Woodland e-voucher on submission of authentication and thus sharing his carbon credits helping Woodland Retail Chain negate its carbon footprint," he adds.

Concerned by global warming and the effect of carbon emissions on the environment, countries like Norway, Maldives, Denmark, Costa Rica, Vatican City are working on becoming `carbon neutral` in the near future.

Companies contribute a huge part to the environmental mess with the release of deadly effluent and by the enormous carbon emissions.

Tech-giant Microsoft has also committed to going carbon neutral, joining Dell, Google, HSBC, PepsiCo, Sky, Tesco and other corporates which have successfully managed to reduce their carbon "footprints" by reducing CO2 emissions in certain divisions of the organisations.