You might have heard the saying, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”
We lost our way!
When I was a kid, my parents taught me why I should ask for food only as much I can eat; they told me why I should not waste food; I was encouraged to eat just a little less than what I can eat because there’re so many others who are going hungry. Same was about using electricity, water, clothes, pocket money and everything else. Our teachers taught us the same in schools. We grew up in an environment of scarcity; abundance was rare and if it existed with a handful, it was considered as a stroke of luck and sometimes suspected as ill-gotten.
In the last twenty odd years, the environment has gradually brought in new paradigms such as limitlessness, thinking out of the box, unshackling one’s imagination from scarcity and the like. With our markets closely connected and demographic dividend in India’s favour, state policies are aimed at boosting demand and consumerism; social norms have been leaning towards spending money and leveraging the assets to raise capital; enterprises are competitively racing towards growing bigger and generating greater value for the owners.
Given this backdrop, over the last few decades, the thoughts of optimisation have given way to abundance, the propensity of saving for the rainy day is nearly scorned at and the drive towards living for the day is gaining strength. Our environment is getting increasingly polluted; basic necessities for sustenance such as the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we grow our food on and raise our livestock on are losing their purity. Our future is endangered by the changes over the last few decades of mindless growth and reckless consumption.
The case for greening
Thankfully, we are seeing the wheel turn again into a new paradigm of responsible consumption, minimal wastage, conscious recycling, optimizing energy usage, shifting towards renewables and the like. Our young people are quite aligned with this new paradigm and signing up more and more people on this new thought.
Organisations are microcosms of this world, our living system and our society. Naturally, they have to reflect the same thinking. These new ideas have caught the attention of the world and organisations are talking about practices to reduce the harm to the environment, protect life and sustain life on this planet for a long time. Governments have been bringing out regulations to drive these behaviours forward.
The case for greening has been established without any doubt. However, there is a perception that greening initiatives are costly for organisations to put into practice. For example, the cost of energy-efficient appliances, equipment, tools and machinery is higher than the cost of normal ones. Similarly, the cost of building green buildings or LEED-certified buildings is higher than the normal ones. Usage of environment-friendly packaging material, recyclable products, treating effluents in a certain manner, using renewable sources of energy and so on are not economical. How can organisations deal with this?
We need affirmative action
We need industry bodies and advocacy groups to influence Government policies so that the enterprises will be encouraged to adopt these new practices, invest in the technology and greening practices. Business leaders are worried about the cost implications and profit impact in the short run. These considerations should not come as an obstacle on their way to adopt these progressive practices.
Secondly, organisations irrespective of sizes must influence everyone to make a transition of the mindset to responsible consumption, prevention of wastage and conservation of energy. Not every initiative is costly, rather some of them such as switching off the appliances and equipment which are not in use and adopting energy-efficient tools and equipment, save money and help increase profits. At the core of these initiatives, we have to make a transition back from abundance and insensitive consumption to optimisation and responsible behaviours.
Last but not the least, responsible organisations need to be talent magnets so that they can be competitive in the marketplace. Greening initiatives can be the differentiator for an organisation to earn the respect of its stakeholders and draw them closer to it. For an enterprise, to win the battles in the marketplace, nothing can be as potent a weapon as winning the confidence of the stakeholders. Business leaders know this and thus, drive the greening initiatives as a key strategy for the future!