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Published on July 8th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan


Ethical Business: Are Companies Actively Avoiding the Green Way?

July 8th, 2012 by  


Here’s an interesting guest post, more of a reflective piece, on the greening (or, in some cases, non-greening) of businesses. Worth a read, I think:

There have been a lot of interesting shifts in the way that people think about their lives. As technology and education improves, so too does the average person’s understanding of key issues facing the livelihood of themselves, their job, and the world at large. While individual people tend to focus on their personal health and fitness or their money-saving ethic, businesses are only really concerned with the latter — and are fighting the after-effects of the recession in markedly different ways. However, the old approach to prosperity is dying out, with a new generation of clued-up people with greater demands.

There are two schools of thought that have grown in different directions, moving from the basic principle that a company needs to buy everything at the lowest price possible and sell it at the highest margin. The older logic is to cut costs at every possible opportunity; whether it’s keeping the smallest team possible, outsourcing less important tasks to another company (often in another country), or buying lower-quality materials — this approach is becoming outdated, and fast.

With the rise of internet shopping and consumer power, comes the need to produce better-quality items, using renewable processes that appeal to the inner guilt over their environmental impact (which many people have developed). While bigger corporations that adopt older logic have implemented a handful of measures to promote their renewable and eco-friendly approach — recycled packaging, for instance — the core of the large majority of these companies’ operations is still stuck in the past, and buyer-led feedback will always catch these companies out; such is the nature of the Freedom of Information Act.

Many new companies, however, particularly those working in digital industries, have had the benefit of new systems and improved corporate ethics, which has put them ahead of the established market leaders. Building “an office” and associated operations from scratch is now not only cheaper, but also more eco-friendly, than ever before, and the adoption of the soon-to-be listed provisions has not only made them more streamlined and efficient, but also helped them appeal to an increasing tech-savvy general public. It will be these factors that will ultimately decide the future of business — and waiting too long to adopt them could be disastrous not only for the environment, but a business’ livelihood.

Cloud computing and digital storage

One of the keys to running profitably as a business is to minimise utility bills, maintenance costs and large initial investments. Older companies still run huge warehouses filled with servers, computing equipment, and hard drives to store the entire company’s documentation. However, the miniaturisation of technology has not only made these great big machines incredibly inefficient and bad for the environment, but largely pointless in an office space. By moving to the cloud with dedicated companies using class-leading green technology, the information needed by companies is only a click away — and without all those associated CO2 emissions.

Green outsourcing

A lot of companies may not run as cheaply as rivals in the Far East or Indian subcontinent, but due to widespread dissatisfaction from consumers who weren’t able to talk to  a citizen of their own country — or the lower quality associated with many products from outsourcing deals past — these domestically-based rivals are playing on the desire for ecologically-sound production processes. Whether it’s printing companies specialising in recycled flyers (like Flyerzone) or supermarkets that pride themselves on Fairtrade products (such as the Co-Operative), they can make a business much more appealing in the eyes of the public.

New, low-footprint technology

Smartphones and tablets are fast becoming the new way for businesses to operate and, with one charge, many are delivering extensive savings for companies that need results on the move. Much like the aforementioned backroom technologies, however, it’s important to focus on ditching old systems and electronics that eat power (CRT monitors, huge photocopiers, older plasma TVs, fluorescent tube lighting) in favour of energy-efficient alternatives (flatscreens, smart copiers, LED TVs, LED lighting).

Renewable energy (the CleanTechnica specialty)

Less computing power means a smaller requirement for electricity. Adding on to that, to offset emissions to the greatest degree — and appeal to the masses — it could be worth diverting saved money into renewable energy for an office. Solar panels and wind energy can often supply an entire business with electricity, if used and installed properly, or can simply help reduce dependence on the grid. What’s more, in many places, feed-in tariffs or low solar prices can even earn a company money!

Image Credit: green business image via Shutterstock

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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself (and other species) with the power of the word. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor, but he's also the president of Important Media and the director/founder of EV Obsession and Solar Love. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada. Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in these particular companies and feels like they are good cleantech companies to invest in. But he offers no professional investment advice and would rather not be responsible for you losing money, so don't jump to conclusions.

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