Many people find it relatively easy to implement green living strategies at home but wonder how they can make the same positive changes in their workplace. Many of the same sustainable lifestyle changes that work in the home can be incorporated successfully into most workplaces.
- Save power – replace the old incandescent light bulbs with the new CFLs; replace halogens with the new LEDs; turn the lights of after hours; turn off the lights in seldom used rooms such as store rooms; turn off the air conditioning after hours. Install a high volume, low speed fan.
- Save more power – lower the thermostat on summer cooling and winter heating by just one or two degrees. This saves power, cuts electricity bills and does not affect the comfort of the workers.
- Purchase energy-efficient machines and appliances – when computers, printers and kitchen appliances need replacing, look for those that are kinder to the environment. Turn off appliances when not in use and set computers to hibernate automatically after 10 to 15 minutes.
- Reduce paper use – look at ways to reduce the amount of paper used in the business; recycle waste in an environmentally-friendly manner; reuse waste paper where possible.
- Harmful chemicals – replace cleaning products with green cleaning products and dispose of harmful chemicals in a way that conserves, not destroys, the natural environment.
- Work from home – there are many jobs that do not require employees to actually commute to an office. If these tasks can be performed at home, with the help of technology, there will be a considerable number of vehicles taken off the roads at peak times.
While implementing the above initiatives is definitely a step in the right direction, there is more that a business can do towards becoming sustainable. Green business has been described as a long-term approach by a corporation to achieve a balance between business priorities and environmental, economic and social responsibilities. For a publicly listed company, the expectation of the shareholders is a prime concern.
The Brundtland Commission of the United Nations in 1987, described sustainability and sustainable development as that which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The 2005 World Summit noted that sustainability in business needed to address a balance between the three pillars of sustainability, economic, social and environmental.
Business sustainability is a model that works towards creating long-term value to both employees and consumers through adopting green strategies. These strategies are aimed at preserving the natural environment while looking at how the business operations will impact economic and social issues. Issues such as raw materials used, manufacturing processes, end product and by-products of manufacture, business relationships, finances and investments are some areas that need to be addressed.
Corporations are driven by growth and bottom-line profits and the challenge is to find ways to move towards being more sustainable while protecting these issues. The great news is that many strategies that make an environmentally-friendly business will also reduce operating costs, especially in the area of non-renewable energy consumption.
Many countries have put in place organizations to help businesses find ways to make the necessary changes. These include government departments, government-funded commissions and private groups set up to achieve the same end. These organizations are responsible for developing appropriate strategies and educating business and industry in their implementation.
A sustainable business in the 21st century is one that has made a firm commitment to environmentally-friendly principles in the operation of its business. It is seen as being greener than its competitors; it supplies green products or services in place of those that harm the natural environment and it continues to make a profit; it doesn’t damage the environment during the course of doing business.
The growth of eco-friendly, sustainable businesses can be consumer-driven. When consumers demand greener products and services and fewer harmful products are purchased, manufacturers and corporations will have to make changes in order to compete in the marketplace. As consumers, we need to educate ourselves so that we can recognize harmful toxins in products, dangerous manufacturing processes and dodgy work practices so that we can reject those that are not sustainable.
So, is your workplace green? Have you tried anything to lessen your eco-impact? Please share.