By Robert Cordray
Even though phrases like ‘global warming,’ ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘environmentally-conscious’ have only started to emerge over the last few decades, the real history of ecology and the environment dates back even further.
Although the history books may not mention the push for ‘green,’ they do mention ecological impacts that have made an enormous impact on the modern world today. But regardless of the history of environmentalism, the green movement itself has only started gathering momentum over the last half of the century. In terms of business, this has become quite apparent.
Early companies never really considered how corporate business may impact the environment. If any actual thought was given, it was only with regards to the raw resources that were readily available for use. No one bothered to consider the long-term effects of such practices. As forests were burned to the ground in the name of progress, companies set a bad example that haunts the world to this day. Even today, as more organizations and people strive to remedy the damage of the past, several companies still see the world as an expendable commodity.
Still, everyone is affected on some level in terms of environmental impact due to corporate business. Therefore, the time has come for those companies responsible for damaging the environment to be held accountable for their actions. Here are some environmentally-safe policies that every business and household should ideally adopt and follow:
- Decrease electricity waste by always shutting off lights along with any unused equipment.
- Use fuel efficient sources for transporting freight.
- Use LED lighting that promotes high-efficiency rather than traditional incandescent bulbs which produce and waste more energy.
- Use rechargeable batteries rather than wasteful disposable ones.
- Stop using disposable plates, silverware, and cups and use washable ones instead.
- Consider using renewable energy sources like solar power.
- Install air hand dryers in place of paper towel dispensers.
Recycle when possible:
- Only use renewable or recyclable building materials.
- Significantly decrease paper waste by eliminating any unnecessary faxes, memos, etc., and only rely on electronic device communication instead.
- Recycle used electronics with the help of a take-back program.
- Manage the amount of disposable coveralls used on a monthly basis.
Work with your staff:
- Diminish climate control and encourage the staff to dress appropriately for the weather.
- Integrate and enforce permanent recycling practices.
- Encourage employees to telecommute and work from home in order to decrease pollution and traffic.
- Subsidize the costs for public transportation on behalf of employees.
- Arrange company carpools.
Commit to being a “green company”:
- Only conduct business with other like-minded “green” companies
- Take extra safety measures when handling any substances and materials that may potentially harm the environment.
- Only conduct business with local area farmers to decrease transportation emissions.
- Invest in more resourceful and efficient systems for material handling for production lines.
- Use new low-flow plumbing fixtures when replacing older models.
- Try to implement eco-friendly warehouse solutions that store and transport materials more effectively.
The carelessness of companies
Various companies are required to handle very dangerous and toxic substances. However, it is their sole responsibility to ensure those substances do not cause harm to the environment. Back in 2010, the hazardous BP oil spill was a direct result of careless corporate policies and money-saving tactics. As a result, an estimated amount of more than 200 million gallons of toxic oil was spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. So far, BP has been fined over $42 billion towards the cleanup effort. Even so, there’s no real way to determine the extent of the damage or how long the effects will last on the overall environment.
Businesses and corporations alike need to pay attention and learn from one another’s mistakes. Taking a shortcut in order to save money and/or time could result in damaging the environment, whether it’s visible or not. Each and every company is liable for ensuring their practices are supporting the environment in an eco-friendly manner, regardless of how much money it takes to do so. Every corporation, small business owner, and each individual on the planet must work together to heal past mistakes and strive to build a cleaner future – or someday there may not be a future.
Image credit: Flickr/wackybadger
Robert Cordray is a former business consultant and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience and a wide variety of knowledge in multiple areas of the industry. He currently resides in the Southern California area and spends his time helping consumers and business owners alike try to be successful. When he’s not reading or writing, he’s most likely with his beautiful wife and three children.