James Brueton, Founder, EnviroBuild, explores what we should be thinking about when talking about a green future and what it means to run a green business
In their most recent report on climate change, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) stated that the warming temperatures of our atmosphere must not exceed 1.5C if we are to avoid an irreversible global catastrophe.
Strong storms, rising sea levels, mass extinction and water scarcity are just several environmental reactions to be expected should rising climate temperatures continue. Following this, recent reports have suggested that the political actions taken now will be crucial in acknowledging pressing environmental challenges(1), given that around 100% of this global warming is the result of human activity(2). With 20-40% of the global population currently living in regions that are already experiencing global warming exceeding 1.5C(3), climate change is an ever-important issue that is largely overlooked.
Political action is the most crucial change needed in the fight against climate change. However, in a political climate where the pursuit of eternal economic growth is prioritised over environmental protection, we cannot rely on the public sector to drive all green reform. It is therefore crucial that us individually and the private sector are all doing what we can to contribute to this sustainable progression.
The definition of the term ‘sustainability’ often gets lost amongst its abundant use. It can be easy to neglect sustainability, assuming that it is just a modern buzzword that demands you to pursue environmental initiatives at the cost of everything else. In reality, sustainability is a key concept that asks us to reflect on what actions we are able to integrate on a more personal level.
It is these changes in habit and everyday behaviour that contribute to a green future; a future that is relying on the sustainable actions that we take now, within our abilities, to counteract the pollutive ways of human life. Here, we must maintain a sustainable progression within every aspect of society whilst ensuring that the journey towards a green future can be fulfilled in a way in which our finite planetary resources can sustain and support.
This is why consumers are increasingly concerned about the ethical ramifications of the products and services that they use, representing the huge potential for businesses through the improvement of their sustainable credentials. Businesses must reflect on how the complex systems of their organisation interact, and the ways in which this web of operational processes can be made more environmental. Becoming a green business demands a thorough assessment of every step in its product journey, from the manufacturing stage to the customer. Transitioning to renewable energy, making the most of the growing stream of recycled materials available, reducing the quantity of input material within a product and using LED motion-controlled lighting are all examples of adjustments that can be adopted as part of this sustainable business progression.
Planning a green business
When planning to green your business, it is important not to over-specify; the majority of these changes will benefit your organisation long-term, as well as the environment, saving you money which can eventually be passed onto the customer to help you to be price competitive. Take advantage of the measuring tools available and use data to contribute to your understanding of the business’s environmental impact, further utilising this to explore the channels through which you can work to improve your carbon footprint.
Being ahead of the environmental curve is practical in preparing your business for the upcoming threats of climate change and potential legislation whilst also contributing to the important transition towards a greener future. As people become increasingly interested in buying from and working for ethically and sustainably responsible companies(4), aligning a company’s strategy with sustainability can also increase both customer and staff retention. Creating a sustainable culture and green business will not only result in benefits for the environment itself but will trickle down into all aspects of the business with great impact.
As a green business, sustainability should be at the core of every action and decision made around the product lifecycle; from supply solutions to product disposal. Whilst many of these decisions will prove difficult in staying true to your sustainable values, they will ensure long term business benefits and endurance.
It comes down to adaptation. Businesses must commit to sustainable change in order to secure a green future where business can continue to thrive alongside greener environmental and social landscapes.
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