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Business Advice

Calling earth’s movers and shakers…

Engage top management to eliminate wasteful practices and cultivate a green culture within the organisation
ST701 Editorial Team - September 28, 2010
By: Sheila Lim
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Calling earth’s movers and shakers…

Call me over-imaginative or looney, but I think that the non-stop series of natural disasters that has ravaged many parts of the world since the devastating tsunami in 2004 is Mother Nature’s way of expressing her displeasure at the foolish ways in which we have been decimating the vital resources she has provided us with, and warning us to stop and do something about it.

Perhaps like the way people are by now numb to images of pitiable children starving to death in Africa and innocent victims killed in war-torn countries, we’ve also become immune to those showing the widespread destruction wrought by massive floods, hurricanes, typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, volcanic eruptions, oil spills, and other natural and manmade disasters.

And because of the brouhaha over an unsubstantiated claim that some Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035, climate experts are now more wary about linking the causes of such natural disasters to global warming. But does that really matter? We don’t need further proof that the future of mankind’s survival is getting gloomier by the day – what’s happening around us is evidence enough. And as the gargantuan economies of China and India grow even wealthier, what’s certain is that things are only going to get worse.       

Play your role to improve the situation
It’s good news that the governments of the most powerful nations in the world are seriously making efforts to protect the environment. Their actions range from the implementation of policies on waste management to the development of green buildings and appliances, and renewable energy resources.

What’s worrying, however, is that while they have the power to bring about imminent changes, it would take far too long for the implementation of most policies to take effect at ground level. And time is of the essence – as the extent of the damage caused by environmental pollution becomes more rampant with each passing day.

On the other hand, the effects of actions taken by environmentally-conscious individuals to bring about changes to improve the situation can never be as impactful.

In this respect, all business organisations can play an invaluable role. They can hasten change in a multitude of ways – how they run their businesses, creating marketing campaigns to set new lifestyle trends and initiating consumer education programmes to change consumer behaviour.

So we should take a look at how those in the corporate world can play their role as Earth’s most powerful stakeholders to help prevent us all from sliding down the slippery path of no return. 

Put a stop to wasteful business practices
At food outlets, vendors are always quick to throw in plastic utensils along with the packaged food bought by their customers, regardless of whether they are required. At supermarkets, the use of plastic containers for produce is exceedingly wasteful. So is the indiscriminate use of plastic bags and promotional flyers at exhibitions and trade fairs. 

Examples of other forms of waste are the return envelopes accompanying credit card bills sent to all card members, including those who have opted to pay via GIRO or online, as well as duplicate copies of brochures sent by banks to card members owning more than one of their credit cards. 

Some business organisations may argue that such practices are part and parcel of good customer service. But if they take a closer look at ways to eliminate waste, cut business costs and pass the savings to their customers, they would be doing themselves, their customers and the environment a greater service.

Create awareness and change mindsets
“Think Green – please consider the environment before printing this e-mail” – this is the footnote accompanying every outgoing e-mail sent by the staff in my company. Such efforts may seem insignificant, but they can add up to a lot in the long run as they are part of the process of inculcating environmental consciousness in employees.  

That’s why it makes good sense for every business organisation, big or small, to set up a “green committee” to monitor the ways resources are being utilised, and to initiate environmentally-friendly business practices within the organisation. Such practices could range from the selection of eco-friendly raw materials for the production of your goods and the design of work processes to the ways in which plastic utensils are used.

Bad habits, whether they be smoking, breeding mosquitoes or wasting resources, are hard to break once cultivated. Thus, it is essential for business owners and management bodies to create awareness and lead the way in changing mindsets and instilling in their staff the need to be more conscientious about managing waste and cutting costs at all times, and not only during a downturn.

To manage waste, all it really takes is a little extra effort and some creativity. A good way to start the ball rolling is to motivate staff through incentive schemes to encourage the creation and initiation of new ideas. Companies can also reward those whose cost-cutting ideas and measures contribute towards significant cost reduction and in saving the environment.


Create a climate for change