Environmental Issues

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Environmental Issues

Environmental Issues

Section 1: Benefits of going green

With businesses now competing to be seen as “green”, it is clear that it is becoming an important part of overall company strategy. However, sustainability can often be viewed as an expensive undertaking. There is a common confusion over the business case for going green - is it to improve the image of the company or to cut costs? Cutting edge companies understand that the business winning benefits of going green outweigh the cost savings many times over. As a result they are prepared to invest in sustainability regardless of the direct economic return on investment. (Ramachandra, 2009, pp. 74)Paradoxically, they find that their programs are giving a return on investment in practice. On the other hand, businesses who follow the short sighted “go green, save money” mantra of many so-called experts will make some cost savings, but will miss out on opportunities to win new business which can be worth an order of magnitude or more above the savings.

Staff engagement is essential to success and rainforests of paper have been produced on tricks and techniques to engage staff in sustainability. These all have their place, but I find that three principles stand head and shoulders above the others. First, give responsibility for “green” to people with authority - e.g. site managers should be expected to deliver against environmental targets. Second, engage staff in developing the solutions - you'll get much better ideas and automatic buy-in from those involved. Thirdly, make it fun - competitions between staff teams to deliver, say, energy savings can deliver fantastic results. (Mayer , 2004, pp. 47)

There are few organizations that can truly be considered to specialize in green consumerism, but Green America appears to be the major such organization, engaging in most of the activities discussed above. Existing consumer organizations, with the exception of Consumers Union through its Greener Choices Website, appear to have paid relatively little attention to green consumer issues. It is clear, however, that a multiplicity of organizations, some of them no more than Websites, are engaging in the specific activities needed to provide green consumers the kinds of information that they need. Although the resources exist, it is not yet apparent that the general public is aware of and uses them to the degree needed to encourage a massive voluntary greening of products. This suggests that policy changes are still needed. Those green consumerism organizations engaging in policy advocacy, such as Green America and the Centre for a New American Dream, will likely need to continue to work with environmental organizations such as the Environmental Defence Fund and the activist consumer movement organizations formed in the 1970s, such as Public Citizen, before green products and services can become the norm. (Easterbrook, 2005, pp. 45-61)

Easy to say but difficult to achieve, becoming a 'sustainable organisation' takes commitment, time and vision. Jane Fenwick examines some organisations who can demonstrate that they live the theory in their ...
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