What is the right thing to do?
If you happen to climb Mt.Fuji, one of the sage advices you’ll get by the wiser folks is –
make sure that you leave the mountain cleaner and more beautiful than you originally found it to be. It’s the only one we got.
Well, that, in my opinion is the right thing to do. In business too, it essentially translates to the same thing – to leave soil, air and water cleaner than we originally found it, so that the future generations are able to live in an ecologically, economically and equitably just manner.
And some companies have demonstrated that the right thing to do is also the right thing for the business.
Hypocrisy is the first step of change
All of business has to first reach the level of being known as hypocrtic. Once the business is past hypocrisy and gets serious on the environment front, then accountability sets in – accountability spurs competetion and that enables companies to do the right thing.
But none of it will come to pass until first a company engages in a dialogue– a transparent climate map with almost child like curiosity. Because sustainability is not a one-off project that is to be done and over with. The pollution issues or governance issues or whatever challenges the companies are facing can’t be solved by a magic wand of sustainability. But a company has got to start somewhere – honestly.
The 2 drivers of sustainability – Product Innovation and Operational Changes require collaborative efforts across the industry and supply chains, between scientists, companies, governments and NGO’s. Incremental yet humungous savings can result from the operational changes, because there is so much low hanging fruit out there. But after a while, a company gets to a point of diminishing returns, if the focus is solely on incremental improvements in efficiency.
Also read the posts on Green Companies
Disruptive innovation – innovations that help companies take the quantum leap into sustainability, is the beacon of hope today. Companies like SC Johnson, Nike, Method, Dell, Samsung and others are the harbingers of that disruptiveness.
The damage done by the industry, ironically, can only be salvaged by the industry it self. In the words of Paul Hawken –
It is the business of business to tackle these problems. It may be the only institution left on the planet that is big enough, resourceful enough and well enough managed to take on these challenges.
And the way to do it is for the businesses to operate like forests. In forests, there is no waste. One organisms waste is another’s food.
And that is where Bio-mimicry, Dematerialization, green chemistry, and Cradle to Cradle design systems take the challenge head-on as we move into a world where there will increasingly be blurring of the boundaries between industries that complement each other through collaboration. Neither do measures to increase the bottom line have to come at the expense of environment and nor do measures to improve the environment have to come at the expense of economic prosperity.
Toxifying the planet is not the right thing to do – using every bit of natural capital is not the only way forward. There are other ways – sustainable ways, the right ways to move forward.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts below.
- Can we ever live consciously?
- Consumption Fetish
- Listen to the message
- Gambatte Japan – Doing as the Japanese do
- 7 Overarching Objectives of Sustainability (linkingsustainability.com)
- 6 immediate benefits of a Sustainability program (linkingsustainability.com)
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