Sustainability, Starting with Businesses
Sustainability is the ball to the Earths chain, it is something that we need to help humanity, along with every other creature on this planet, survive and also protect the Earth. Sustainability is where Humans can sustain themselves without harming the planet, or at least have the biggest effect on the planet than Earth herself. There are ways that we, as a whole, can change to help reduce the carbon footprint that we so greatly have increased over the years. We have these luxuries such as electricity, but there is always a hidden cost. Businesses are a big start to this problem and it should always start with those who can afford the change. I believe that sustainability is an important and very necessary but long process that needs to be started now before it is too late. Throughout this Essay, I will be talking about what sustainability is, why businesses will need to make the big leap in sustainability, the necessity of sustainability throughout businesses and corporations, how we should all contribute to sustainability, and finally, Is it even important? Will it be enough?
“The ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level “Avoidance of depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance is Sustainability. It is basically a balancing act that helps maintain the amount of resources we use, so we can sustain ourselves without using all the resources at once and potentially harming the earth and everything else in the process. Humans, as the top of the food chain and the most abundant mammal across the earth, have used most of our resources unscathed and without precaution. As a species we do not think long term, our brains are not programmed to think about something that will never happen in our lifetime; therefore, we do not care or even second guess all the amenities that we have that cause a bigger carbon footprint on the earth. Caring about long-term goals that are beyond our lifetime are not important until it will be too late.
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In an ideal environment/society, humans coexist in harmony with their natural environment, conserving resources for this generation and the next for their grandchildren. Everyone can enjoy high-quality life, and everyone lives happily ever after. Is something like this possible? Hopefully and possibly in the future. To do so, they would have to raise awareness to everyone on the planet while giving education facts about the issue to help them understand, business investments to help the companies become more sustainable and then we will re-evaluate our values to keep of with the sustainability. The big concern now is the having businesses invest into becoming more sustainable. With knowing what sustainability is and means we can understand why businesses should have more of a sustainable business structure.
Business sustainability is often defined as managing the triple bottom line that allows companies to manage their financial, social and environmental risks, obligations and opportunities or referred to as profit, people, and the planet. Business sustainability requires firms to adhere to the principles of sustainable development. According to the World Council for Economic Development (WCED), sustainable development is that of which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Therefore, for industrial development sustainability, it must address the issues of the whole system, such as economic efficiency, environmental accountability, and social equality.
Every business’s goals for sustainability should entail three mains things: to create zero waste, operate with 100% renewable energy, and sell products that sustain resources and the environment. Before a business can become sustainable, they would need to figure out its own impact. After gauging impacts you can start to see what to change and start getting rid of wasteful habits and harmful practices that can be changed. Also, you can increase workplace satisfaction by involving the employees, by seeing what they would do to reduce the energy use, waste, and sources.
There are a lot of benefits of becoming a successful sustainable business or at least trying to switch to better sustainability practices. “Some people restrict sustainability to environmental issues, and others use it synonymously with corporate social responsibility (Bansal, 2014, p.70). The end goal of sustainability is creating a world where both social and businesses can achieve greatness without harming the environment. Not only does going sustainable for company help the earth but it also seems to drive the share prices of businesses higher! “Through their Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever aims to double their revenue and halve their environmental footprint by 2020 (Bansal, 2014, p.71). Shows that business that tend to switch to a more sustainable structure tend to raise their revenue while also reducing their carbon footprint. While at first when switching all the business methods might take time and money, in the end, there will be profiting to be made for everyone.
In order to be truly sustainable, we need to ensure that natural resources are used at a rate no faster than the rate at which they are replenished. Sustainability does not just help the environment and overall our resource consumption but also helps business thrive and grow. It will attract customers that are looking to show or work with businesses that are environmentally safe, also would make the company value worth more by switching. It would be worth more because it would be valued more. A business that is set up to be ready to go and use resources that can last for generations compared to a business that relies on the resources that are depleting and have no way of switching. Not everything done by business is done to help the problem but to help the business and that is a normal business strategy that helps everyone. If a business is selfish and only cares about the profit of the business, they tend to do stuff that will create more revenue, so they tend to have a better price that will maximize the quantity of their output. If they have too high of a price, then the demand of their product or service will be reduced and they will lose revenue; there has to be equilibrium throughout a business. This stays true about switching to a more sustainable business, it will be costly and a lot of planning and searching for other resources, but it will generate revenue and value for that company. Thank you, businesses, for being “greedy.
Businesses alone cannot make a huge difference in the environment, but when businesses start to make the change, others will too as individuals. Studies have shown that even if every big corporation that is sustainable, there are always factors that are measured throughout the world that will be far greater than major companies can change; however, it is a start. We can all be a sustainable leader! Just takes a few extra steps a day, nothing that will ruin the daily routine. A little goes a long way. We can all be part of this change if we have a few driven characteristics: to be caring, have compassion, and have a sense of urgency because it needs to be acknowledged sooner than later. “Environmental leaders inspire individuals to take collective action to protect Earth and are driven by caring, compassion, and a sense of urgency (Gallagher). Just have to show that we care about the Earth, have compassion for other creatures and plants that live here with us, and that we all need to make a difference soon or any attempt that doesn’t have everyone’s participation is not worth trying.
Businesses depend on the communities to be customers and employees; therefore, investments in the community will lead to a progressive business. Things like investing in public transportation, fresh food, fresh water, etc. will end helping sustainability. Being a sustainable business also means what that business doesn’t do. A sustainable business only uses and does things that are good for society and not when it has economic advantages for their company. Overall, they tend to manage what health impact they have on a community.
Embracing environmental sustainability are usually high in benefits for businesses because they are constantly reviewing and adjusting their processes to find new sustainable ways. Other businesses would most likely to stick to the process and practices that have worked and gained them success, without even considering more environmentally friendly alternatives. Most importantly, for the employees, the benefits of going to a sustainable workplace also help in the long run with their salaries and helping them maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
It is everywhere, it gets talked about, and people try to force it on you; sustainability. Is it important? Will it even matter what we do? We already talked about what it is and what it can do for business because of the idea of sustainability, but what are the disadvantages of it? The disadvantages are usually not spoken about, they are not major but there are some. The government has a constant uncertainty in trying to be sustainable because of the factors that they have to worry about. Also, all the sustainable or renewable resources have drawbacks that will pull the sustainability in the other direction. The first stage of sustainability we might have to cause more issues to eventually help in the long run, which might even be worse in that short run that it was before. Along with environmental, there is social sustainability. With the change of trying to be more sustainable, there will be a different mentality and would eventually hurt companies. Everyone would need to change to adapt to the new ways, “A Radical transformation of society would be necessary, so great that it is difficult to trust that it will happen. We could be making it worse to create something that will eventually help us keep the lifestyle we all live in today without harming our resources. There are some people that do not believe that we are the cause of what’s going on and think that it is natural and part of the Earth’s cycle. That the Earth is changing to how we behave and change to us. For instance, the Earth is warming and showing different seasonality patterns than the last 100,000 years, that it is changing so that we do not see another ice age soon and that it is adapting to how we live. The Earth can handle itself, the reason for sustainability is for humanities sake. Earth is rebuilding the ozone layer that we have destroyed, the Earth adapts to its environment just like anything else would, but if it changes too much then we will be at risk, not the planet.
Will every business and person that helps the environment run more sustainable be enough to make a difference? Will it change back? or will it just continue no matter what we do. The goal is to hopefully change it back to the cycle it has always had since the first creatures on the Earth. It is just a goal, we do not know what will happen until we try and see, but is it worth trying? I believe so, because if we do not try then we are only forced to find somewhere else to live when we use all of the planet’s resources and have no other way to survive and live in our current state of society. Even though it is not in our current lifetime or maybe the next does not mean we shouldn’t worry about it. It is hard to understand something that won’t affect us personally.
Economic development is important because sustainability without economic development cannot last and/or succeed. We have to convince individuals, communities, and other organizations to invest in sustainability with incentives that supersede long-term advantages. To start this process, we will need to start making common places and populated places more sustainable, so it can become an example for other places and people to follow suit.
There are ways that we, as a whole, can change to help reduce the carbon footprint that we so greatly have increased over the years. For business, it is as easy as having a program that helps employees help the workplace and business become more sustainable with 5 steps:
1.Make it fun. People are motivated by what they think is fun. Having an activity that is enjoyable and entertaining helps the day go by faster and enjoy being at work. Therefore, find ways to incorporate fun into your daily sustainability goals.
2.Keep it simple. Humans do not process information that well and only so much of information at a time. Like me, most people procrastinate or avoid things that seem like a hassle to us or is too complicated. Need to make wasteful habits and procedures more difficult and the more sustainable ones easier and simpler.
3.Start small. Start with things that are easy to do so they get into the habit of doing it and then slowly move to more things. It is harder to complete something when everything changes at once. So, starting small helps us remember better and not feel as everything is changing; we do not like change.
4.Show progress. Showing progress can be a motivator to employees. When it shows that our behavior has been changing and helping, we are likely to be motivated to continue because we are already in the middle of a journey, so no reason to turn back halfway.
5.Remind people of their values: Most people will understand that it is important of cleaning up and restoring the environment by the use of sustainable behaviors and practices, but they don’t actually act of those values. By reminding people of the values, we can stop their bad habits and help achieve better sustainability
Sustainability has recently been in the limelight, but the idea and concept of it are hardly new, we always needed to be sustainable because that is how we can grow and thrive without starving all of our resources. In some cases, the sustainability of one fossil fuel tends to cause a bigger issue with another resource in the world or just the environment. For example, electric cars. Electric cars such as Tesla do not use gas and are powered strictly on electricity from a big battery. Well just like fossil fuels, we use it and eventually we need to replace it. Where does the battery waste go when we are done with it? Well, it just goes into a specific waste dump because it is impossible to get rid of the chemicals that are inside the batteries, so when it sits in a chemical waste dump is affects the ground and the surrounding areas. These chemicals are very harmful to humans and the environment. We are just switching from one problem to another and in this case, that business would seem sustainable but actually is not and might be causing more harm than before.
Fossil fuels will always be needed, and other alternatives do not help our carbon footprint as in batteries. Since they cannot be recycled and just get thrown in a chemical waste dumb rises the toxic waste and destroys the environment within that area even more. Recycling and reusing will help keep us sustainable, but what about things we can’t recycle or the waste that we have already here that we cannot get rid of. Businesses that involve mass producing a product that involves some sort of fuel then how that business would ever become sustainable with how everything we use for energy causes some type of waste, is something we have no answer to. When we throw stuff away it does not just disappear. The trash we throw away goes to a landfill and just sits there, some get burned but that causes more carbon deposits because it’s burning all the products and the stuff within them. It seems like there is no going back to what we were before but only to slow down our consumption. Sustainability is possible, but it is not what people think. It will not reverse what we have already done at least not any time soon, and it will not get rid of the waste we already have. Even if it slows it down, we still will be producing waste that will just keep building up. The only way to change is to be completely sustainable.
Why is sustainability so important? For many simple reasons: we cannot maintain our quality of life the way we keep living. We will lose the diversity of the planet and Earth’s ecosystem until we embrace it and make a change. There are many indications around the world that show us that something must be addressed. Earth will lose all of the fossil fuels that it took millions of years to create, many animals will go extinct, we will run out of trees for lumber, and we will damage the atmosphere to the point where it will majorly impact the climate. Earths Sustainability lies in the hands of the people and who better to start the change than the companies and businesses that can afford it and be a leading example for the future.
There are some problems with sustainability. Sustainability is basically us preventing carbon emissions. Well if carbon is the problem, then zero carbon is the solution. If we build enough energy facilities and technologies quickly then we would never need to slow down, and we would never need to turn the lights off. To do that we will need to harvest all the planets abundant and almost limitless resources: sunlight, wind, water power. This means that new, huge plants to collect those abundant resources will need to go to places where the energy is most abundant. However, these places are already filled with the worlds wildest and beautiful untouched landscapes. Destroying those would be going against natures sustainability; against everything, an environmentalist believes in to protect. Just image all the open desert terrain filled with giant overbearing wind turbines every 20 feet everywhere you look. The oceans, already are filled with plastics and waste from us, laced with huge turbines that will generate water power but also ruin the ocean’s environment. Instead of changing how we live most people are talking about changing our technologies and how everything else functions and changes around us. To be sustainable, we need to change; we are the problem.
We have these luxuries such as electricity, but there is always a hidden cost. Businesses are a big start to this forever damaging problem of economic wellbeing and it should always start with those who can afford the change. Throughout this essay, we have talked about what sustainability is, why businesses will need to make the big leap in sustainability, the necessity of sustainability throughout businesses and corporations, how we should all contribute to sustainability, and finally, Is it even important or enough. We shouldn’t feel guilty of what we are doing but we should understand that we do need to change it. I understand that it will eventually happen, but I just can’t see it as a necessity, I still drive every chance I get because I love driving and it comforts me. Is my comfort more important than the entire planet? No, it is not, and I should do things that reduce my carbon footprint, it will help the Earth and also help me save money. Driving less means less gas, reusing stuff means less waste and processing of recycling. Like I mentioned early, it is hard for us humans that our brains are designed to only think for a short period of time, we cannot think of long-term goals when we won’t be around for the change; We enjoy comfort. Businesses like to think in the long-run for profits and that’s another reason they should lead by example is that they can help us think and do long-term sustainable processes that we wouldn’t do normally. Sustainability starts with businesses.