Redefining the Urban Jungle

Jul 24, 2019 | Pulse

As the existential threat of global warming looms over our planet affecting every corner of our globe, one finds it hard to ignore the mounting grimness affecting our sunny island. Like the rest of the world, we Sri Lankans are beginning to experience the adverse effects of global warming.

With pollution and temperatures at an all-time high, we are grappling with the negative consequences of our undoing. As a result, we are now on the precipice of facing a counter-movement, where many are proactively seeking to mitigate the perils of environmental degradation. Thus, the narrative is now morphing into the importance of embracing sustainable living practices.

Perils of rapid urbanisation – dealing with space limitations Sri Lankans have grown accustomed to being surrounded by greenery. Many in the affluent segment would live in homes with a sizeable garden, while those in rural areas had easy access to nature. Home gardening was a common practice and a way of sustaining themselves by selling the surplus produce. However, rapid urbanisation coupled with migration from to rural to urban areas has changed the socio-economic dynamics of many Sri Lankan households. As cities become more crowded, a shift from horizontal to vertical living is increasingly becoming the new norm. However, such a transition comes with its own set of problems. For instance, many occupants feel stifled living in a small area, where owning a garden is perceived to be a luxury. Thus, a degree of dissonance is experienced, mainly because people have lost access to the greenery that once surrounded them. To reduce this dissonance, a steady movement towards micro and community gardening have begun to come to the fore – an attempt to reconnect with nature.

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Seeking authenticity through home gardening While indoor gardening is used for decorative reasons and to imbue a sense of peace & serenity, the notion of edible gardening is increasingly becoming commonplace. Consumers now want to know where their food is coming from. Thus, the rise in demand for fresh, authentic, native and affordable fruits and vegetables has propelled many Sri Lankan households to grow their food items. To this end, micro-gardening becomes an effective tool as it uses small spaces effectively to farm food such as vegetables, greens, and fruits. Another similar trend that we are seeing is community gardening. This is where a single piece of land is gardened collectively by a group of people. Home gardening has always been a common practice in Sri Lanka. However, home gardening in small urban settings is an emerging trend that depicts people’s dedication to living a more holistic life by residing closer to nature.

Sri Lankan consumers today are ready for sustainable brands. However, success lies in effective communication to reach the people and demonstrate what the brand is doing. To be truly relevant and resonate with the consumers in this era of environmental stress, it is first important that brands create deep, meaningful conversations that transcend to something much bigger than the brand itself. After all, sustainability goes beyond green. It takes in to account the economic, social and environmental aspects of a country and its people.

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