Taking care of the environment is something that we should all be working towards to ensure that it is still able to be appreciated and full of abundance for many generations to come.
When you think about the environmental impact of companies, your mind probably drifts over to big events like the Deep Horizon Oil rig explosion in 2010, under BP, which leaked hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf, or the Exxon oil spill of 1989 where hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil were lost overboard a transport vessel, requiring a staff of 10,000 people 4 years to clean up.
These are environmental disasters, and while most companies can work hard to avoid disasters like these, you may not be thinking so carefully about the cumulative effects on the environment that your company is having simply in your day to day operations.
But you should be thinking about this. Green companies are now more popular than ever, and companies that are ignoring their environmental impact may find themselves facing hostile consumers, lobby groups, or even government bodies.
Your obligations under law
The federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, along with various state law acts, make up the basis of what is required from businesses in regards to the environment, under Australian law. These laws must be followed exactly to avoid getting in trouble with the authorities. If you are found to be non-compliant with a law, you may be shown some leniency, depending on the level of severity of your non-compliance.
Those that find themselves on the wrong side of an investigation may be fined, or jailed if the severity of the non-compliance is high enough. Even those with small infractions may then find themselves the subject of more scrutiny with recurring frequency.
You may feel a backlash from customers
If customers get wind that you are a particularly wasteful company, then they are likely to show disdain by taking away their business from your company and going to a competitor instead. Many companies try to hide their environmental impact from customers as the effects of it can be devastating.
ConAgra Foods, an American food company, is one of just many companies that have felt the wrath of customers when confronted with their choices made regarding environmental issues. Their poor performance when it comes to global warming indicators, fighting against the labelling of foods contained genetically modified ingredients, as well as PETA indications for mistreatment of animals, and human rights issues, have made them an unpopular company amongst consumers.
ConAgra Foods has worked hard over the past several years to try and turn their image around due to sinking sales in the past related to these issues.
Your moral obligations
Your environment impact doesn’t just start and stop at home and with your consumer decisions. It also is intertwined with your business. We all have a responsibility to look after the world. We are its current caretakers, and the job that we are doing in managing it is a sorely poor performance. Think about your children, and your children’s children, when you think about how your business is impacting the environment. Are you doing as much as you can, within reason, to have a green workplace?
If your company values profits above all else, then how are you helping the world to be a better place, or at the very least, not a worse place than it currently is? Can you sleep sound in the knowledge that you are helping to produce more waste in this already wasteful world?
It’s not difficult to run an environmentally ethical business. All it takes is a little foresight as well as perhaps a little extra cash. While it can be tempting to run a business as lean as possible to increase profits, the consequences of doing so may turn around to bite you in the rear.
Think about the waste that you are creating in your business and how you can help to minimise that waste. Things such as recycling water, reducing the need for printing, turning lights and air conditioners off at night, installing solar, and recycling old computer infrastructure are all things that every business can do. If we all help the planet, we are all better off because of it.