Dia Mirza says that she not only uses sustainable products at home, but also invests in responsible companies after scrutinising their sourcing, manufacturing and delivery
One of the lesser-known aspects of actress-cum-model Dia Mirza is her penchant for responsible investing. The UN Secretary General’s Advocate for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) says that she not only uses sustainable products at home but also invests in responsible companies after scrutinising their sourcing, manufacturing and delivery. Edited excerpts of Dia Mirza’s interview with Naina Gautam:
What Prompted You To Become A Responsible Business Investor?
I like to direct my funds to help add value to the ecosystem of responsible businesses. We are going through a climate crisis and one of the big reasons why we are going through this crisis is because of the existing system capitalism. We have a system that has totally broken down the relationship between human beings and nature. The system has destroyed fragile ecosystems in the name of making money and creating wealth. It has destroyed the planet and in turn, has led to unprecedented loss not just of nature and wildlife but also of human health and peace. It’s really important for everyone to recognise how critical it is for us at this time in human history to change the narrative, to change the system and question how we consume, how we live and, of course, how we invest and what we invest in.
What Guides Your Investment Decisions?
My investment decisions are pretty simple. The first and most important consideration is to invest in companies whose products I personally use in my everyday life. I ask a very simple question: Is this product healthy for people and the planet. If the answer is in the affirmative, I use it. Consequently, I can also consider such a company for investment.
I discovered Beco - one of the first companies that I invested in 2019 - when I was looking for natural face tissues, toilet paper and cleaning supplies for the house and detergents that are not harmful to the environment and, of course, are gentle on human health and skin.
Similarly, when my son was born, I started looking for toys that were natural, sustainable and made of non-toxic and organic material. And I discovered Shumee, a company founded by a mother. She had realised that the toys she grew up playing with do not exist anymore. She wanted to have natural toys for children, so she setup Shumee. Our values are perfectly aligned.
I discovered Greendigo when I was looking for natural clothing for my child who was born prematurely. I needed something that was 100% organic and globally certified. Greendigo is a completely carbon neutral company and aligned with all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We actually released a premature clothing line together.
Then I started looking for biodegradable diapers. I started using biodegradable and natural sanitary napkins about five years ago. I thought if biodegradable sanitary napkins exist, such diapers too would exist, and I discovered Allter.
When You Make Responsible Investments, What Kind Of Due Diligence Do You Conduct?
I am aware of the fact that there are a lot of companies that claim to be aligned with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria, but are doing it as tokenism. As consumers and as investors we need to be discerning and figure out if a company is genuinely walking the talk on being responsible or indulging in just greenwashing. That will only come from interacting with the company and understanding how the broader model of business works at every step and every stage and whether it is truly aligned with ESG or not.
What Are The Most Important Criteria In Simpler Terms That You Consider Before Making Investment Decisions?
For me a company that I invest in has to answer some direct questions. Is the product sustainable in every aspect? Is the raw material natural? Is the system of manufacturing eco-sensitive? Are the processes deployed to manufacture the product kind to the planet and people? If the business genuinely ticks all such boxes on sustainability, then how is this product delivered to the consumer? Is it being done in a carbon-neutral way and with the highest standards of care? Finally, will I use the company’s product at home? Is it something I would feed to my child? Will I use it on my child’s body? I guarantee you that if the answer is yes for all such questions, it would be safe for the planet, too.
Why Aren't Most Consumers Making Responsible Buying Decisions?
Sustainable products are not the norm yet; they are the exception I will give you an example of some of the products that I use. I started using biodegradable sanitary napkins more than five years ago. These are not available in a local neighbourhood market. Such products are usually available online only. It is time for consumers to demand such products.