Going green 101: why it matters

Going green 26

“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realise that one cannot eat money.” – Native American Saying

Going green is the process of adopting environmental friendly and ecologically sustainable practices to conserve nature and sustain natural resources for present and future generations.

In its pursuit of profits, an organisation can easily lose the fact that we live in a world of finite resources. That this world of finite resources is one intricately bound web where one’s damaging actions to the environment affects everyone; to quote the Butterfly Effect, “It has been said that something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can ultimately cause a typhoon halfway around the world.” In an organisational sense, that flutter of the butterfly may well be that bulb that was left on overnight or that faucet that leaks in small drips.

Going green means that in the pursuit of profits, ecologically driven ethics are a major part of the equation. These are manifest in the organisational practices and systems such as green production of its good and services as well as its corporate social responsibility policies. That said, going green must be part of every organisation irrespective of scope of operation or complexity.

Indeed, the United Nations has identified going green as a major component of her Sustainable Development Goals ‘to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.’ Reading through the goals, one is struck by how much going green permeates all the goals. For example, Goal 3 (good health and well-being), Goal 6 (clean water and sanitation), Goal 7 (affordable and clean energy), Goal 9 (sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure), Goal 11 (sustainable cities and communities), Goal 12 (responsible consumption and production) are implicitly or explicitly on going green.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals are buttressed by the UN Global Compact, an accountability tool which your organisation can utilise to keep track of its green practices. In the word of the UN Global Compact, ‘Companies that do business responsibly and find opportunities to innovate around sustainability will be the business leaders of tomorrow.’ Below are a few practices you can adopt for your organisation in conserving the environment:

  • Replace outdated machinery with ones that are more energy efficient and produce less waste
  • Harness green energy e.g. green design when construction your organisation’s office or complex, adoption of renewable energy such as solar and wind energy
  • Replace conventional bulbs and fluorescent tubes- which contain mercury and which is harmful to the environment- with LED-bulbs and LED-tubes
  • Cut back on air-conditioning by using fans and opening windows to allow for circulation of air
  • Repair leaks in water systems
  • Have morning and afternoon tea prepared in bulk and stored in vacuum flasks to keep warm
  • Engage employees who carry packed lunch to work to keep their lunch warm in hot pots, thus minimising the use of the office’s microwave
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle and properly dispose of waste
  • Use the printer only when you must print
  • Incorporate tree planting and environmental clean-ups as part of your organisation’s corporate social responsibility
  • Have ‘green days; e.g. designating every last Friday of the month as a green day and implementing a green activity for the day such as carpooling, using public transport, etc.