Yesterday, I heard about another aquifer that can no longer be used as a drinking water supply. Years of radioactivity in the area has contaminated the aquifer, and now concentrations are way above safe drinking water standards. This is another example of lessons learned from the unknown consequences of the practices at the time. Problem is, getting contaminants out of our drinking water supply is far from easy and very expensive. If only someone had some forethought at the time, like we do now. Green practices are helping to curb mistakes that could end up in an important resource such as this example. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “going green,” but what does is it really mean?
Going green means taking on the responsibility of protecting human health, natural resources and ecosystems from practices that may negatively impact them now or in the future. The ultimate goal is to become sustainable and maintain a certain carrying capacity so that future generations will have the resources they need, as long as the economic, cultural and technological progress continues, of course. The tricky part is trying to figure out what and how much future generations will need. Population forecasts say that’s a lot. So, preserving natural resources such as water, air, wetlands, soil, sediment, animals, microbes, vegetation, etc. will be vital for continued sustainability.
But it all has to be in balance. There needs to be an equilibrium between the environment, economics and social elements. And future entities such as corporations will have to be innovative and forward-thinking. They’ll need to consider themselves as part of their surroundings, not separated from them. Green companies do just that. They consider themselves in concert with their surroundings, and they continually evaluate and share ways to make their businesses more productive while eliminating any effects on others or the environment.
So, why go green? There are many positive effects of going green, but one of the most prominent is saving and generating more money. Think about it. If a company is generating a waste stream, they’ll need to pay to dispose of it and probably for a pretty hefty price. But if they find ways to reduce or eliminate that waste stream, and even further, find a way to utilize it in their operations, they’ve just saved money. Or if a company’s byproduct is plastic, it can be recycled – generating money. And if a company is polluting, steep fines can be assessed against the company which would be saved if they implemented more environmentally friendly methods. This, compounded with attracting more motivated employees who take pride in their company, improving public relations and being utilized by green consumers can only be a winning combination. Going green means flowing green. Simple as that.
If you are interested in more information on this topic, the Environmental Protection Agency has an informative manual called, “Smart Steps to Sustainability: A Guide to Greening Your Small Business” which will take you step by step through the process. It’s free and available for download – just click on the guide below.