“Go Green” is a broadly used term and might mean something different to everyone. According to the US Chamber of Commerce Small Business Nation, going green can be termed as taking steps in conserving energy, reducing pollution and saving money. Today the term “going green” goes above the traditional definition of recycling goods. Therefore, going green might also refer to living a way which is friendly to the environment and the whole earth. Consequently, the term “going green” denotes the contribution towards maintaining the ecological balance as well as the preservation of the planet together with its natural resources and systems (Wagner,2013, p451). Going green is always achieved through simple steps and does not mean skipping showers, selling their car or going to a grocery store.Generally, companies which go green takes the role of minimizing the harm done to the environment.
Going green appears to be the latest trend with various benefits for business owners. For instance, application of green processes in the workplace establishes a healthy environment for employees, reduction of unnecessary waste, as well as recognition of the role, played by businesses in leading the way for social change (Kristie, 2017, para.3). Therefore, the paper aims to discuss benefits, advantages, and disadvantages as well as looking at some of the reputable organizations which have embraced the practice of going green.
Benefits of Going Green
The business of going green for companies are now diverse. For instance, eco-friendly practices applied by canny business owners do not only show bottom line strong results but also manifests themselves in employee morale and productivity as well as brand’s image and reputation(Saini,2013, p63). There are various benefits for the companies which aim at going green. The benefits of going green for any business includes reducing expenses, a gain of customers as well as boosting employee morale.
The first benefit is associated with legal and regulatory compliance. In many countries and states, laws are mandating environmental compliance in several ways and forms to varying extents. For instance, each year more laws are passed on local, state and federal administrations as humans understand the positiveness of going green in earth’s ecology. Therefore, for the companies which are going green, it means that they are getting ahead of the curve because additional laws shall soon be passed (Di Giuli et al., 2014, p168). For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency launched its 2020 Action Agenda which is a genuinely comprehensive approach of reducing carbon emissions, while still promoting sustainability together with having actionable consequences or incentives of being ahead of the green curve.
The next benefit is saving money. Increased energy efficiency leads to saving of utility costs. For instance, reusing of existing material creatively ensures that less money is spent when purchasing new stock for product creation. Besides, streamlining employee transportation saves a substantial amount of money as well as preserving the environment. Despite having a bit of money to be spent in establishing green business procedures, there is a lot of money saved with time. An example, in this case, is that of United Airlines which partnered with Altair Fuels starting to use sustainable biojet fuel(Jim, 2017, para.5). For instance, the purchase of low carbon and renewable fuel for the airline is price-competitive because it allows United Airlines in reducing overall costs.
Marketing awareness is another benefit for companies because it makes customers to feel that it is a trustworthy business. According to a study conducted by Nielsen (2015) where thirty thousand consumers from all over the world were surveyed, sixty-six percent of the consumers agreed that they could pay more for products from sustainable sources. Additionally, the study showed that the number rose to seventy-seven percent among millennial consumers. Therefore, there is a clear demonstration that sustainability is part of the green businesses mission and company culture. For instance, word-of-mouth seems to be the most valuable advertising form and green businesses cannot buy the kind of publicity. Thus, the company existing market is not just bolstered but is extended, meaning that people who might have never heard of such a company are likely topay attention to the one believing in eco-friendly.
The other benefit of going green is an impact on employee morale. Employees will feel safer when working for green businesses. For instance, involving workers in a company’s green initiative boosts their confidence because the employees will think that their health is cared for and that they are not regarded to be expendable commodities. Also, the practice is a good way of reducing turnover since no employee would want to leave a place which considers them to be part of a work community that cares. An example, in this case, is that of the Bank of America. A few years back, the Bank of America established a new incentive program offering employees a discount upon installation of solar panels at their homestead. Consequently, the bank provided about $3000 reimbursement incentive if a customer bought a vehicle proven to be eco-friendly. Through the demonstration of commitment to a healthy environment, companies like Bank of America demonstrates that they care about their employee surrounding which is beneficial to workers morale.
The last benefit for companies has green as a status symbol. Because many more and internationally recognized companies are going green the idea is becoming more tantalizing. It has become a status symbol of being an environmentally friendly business (Noe et al., 2017, p8). For instance, Dell which is a computer company launched a recycling program enabling customers to return for free electronics which are considered notoriously difficult to control. Therefore, going green appears to give small companies an opportunity of engaging with big firms since it is only the most established companies which go green.
The benefits of going green for any business outweighs the negatives. For instance, the time and money needed for establishing new environmentally green protocols are recovered after some period in terms of dividends not only in cash but on the good feeling that the company is kind to the planet.
Disadvantages of Going Green
Going green for any business comes with many alterations and transformations. Greening of a company involves changes aiming to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, using safer non-toxic chemicals in products as well as protecting the ecosystem. Nevertheless, there are several disadvantages for businesses going green because it involves bearing o0f extra costs which are much challenging to absorb.
First, switching going green is an expensive process for businesses. For instance, changing to solar power requires the installation of solar panels at the business facility. The reduced cost in energy savings obtained by companies which go green is not always enough in offsetting the initial upfront conversion costs. Nevertheless, some administrations provide tax benefits which help companies in offsetting the cost of switching.
The second disadvantage for companies going green is pushing up the price of products. There are some cases where using green materials leads to higher costs in the production process or elsewhere in the business facility. For instance, furniture manufacturer switching suppliers in buying only sustainably harvested wood is likely to pay a premium price for his lumber. Therefore, in this case, the enormous cost will be passed to customers as high cost or it might go to the company’s expense leading to the making of small profits on its products.
The next disadvantage is that going paperless means data risking. Many companies consider going green to minimizing or total elimination in using paper which poses some problems. For instance, when employees lose laptop computers, the sensitive information which is usually kept in a locked paper file might fall into the wrong hands. Additionally, a system crash would be disastrous especially if a company does not back up their computer files properly.
The last disadvantage for companies going green is customer backlash. Companies might unintentionally or intentionally make false claims about how their products are environmentally friendly which is a process known as greenwashing. For instance, insisting that a product does not contain added chemical attracts criticism due to the choice of words because even naturally-derived ingredients comprise of chemical substances. Therefore, a company might harm its credibility when consumers know that it is engaging in greenwashing.
Advantages of Going Green
There are various advantages for companies which go green. The first advantage is that going green leads to tax breaks. Considering that many tax deductions, as well as credits, exist for business owners who go green, the decision to make a company more sustainable leads to paying off later after evaluation of business taxes. Therefore, companies should capitalize on any opportunity of improving the Earth-friendliness of their business infrastructure. Various kinds of tax credits exist for eligible business. For instance, one can even change particular vehicles used for business hybrids and get a tax credit for that. Therefore, going green is an excellent way of saving money on taxes for huge businesses as well as small natural supplements company. Else, energy efficiency leads to tax credits. For instance, when an individual is constructing a new building one should use engineering which takes less energy meaning that upgrading an already existing place requires one to switch to energy-efficient appliances.
The other advantage is on public relations. Going green looks good for any company. Therefore, emphasizing on earth-friendly approach to business leads to gaining positive attention from environmentally friendly consumers who are increasing daily. For instance, few people will not think much on any company for making such decisions (Iravani et al., 2017, p277). Companies should try incorporating the going green ideas into their marketing campaigns. Hence, companies should consider mentioning green changes that have been made especially when switching to recycled products or using environmentally safe processes. Additionally, donating some company profit to the green cause gives a similar public relations effect.
The healthier workplace is another advantage associated with companies which go green. According to the Green Business Bureau’s Website companies which promote healthier workplaces usually reports a substantial in the number of employee sick days at an average of twenty percent. Therefore, there is increased productivity, and less money is paid out for sick leave or additional medical benefits. Besides, one of the best ways of keeping a place healthy, environmentally friendly and safe is by using green cleaning products. The other cleaning products comprise of harsh chemicals which hurt the environment together with those working with them particularly if they inhale much or having it on their skin.
Example of Companies Which Have Gone Green
The motivation of companies going green is not increasingly becoming part of various company’s corporate social responsibility rather than an aspect of being relevant in the future business environment. Additionally, there are many environmental concerns which can only be addressed by green initiatives in terms of servicing, production and manufacturing (Beltramello et al., 2013, p12). Therefore, companies are seeking more innovative methods for promoting eco-friendly environments through the integration of green practices in their business functions. Some of the companies which are leading in incorporating eco-friendly practices by going green include the following.
The first company is McDonald’s which is one of the worlds biggest food store. The company argues that by going green, it responds to the customers by setting goals of switching to environmentally friendly packaging materials and providing recycling in all its restaurants. Therefore, the company has established two ambitious environmental goals which it has to achieve by 2025 (Mehta&Chugan, 2015, p77). First, the company aims at getting 100% of their packaging materials from recycled, renewable and certified sources by 2025 with much preference for Forest Stewardship Council certification ensuring that products are coming from responsibly managed forests. Currently, 50% of the company’s guest packaging is derived from sustainable sources and that 10% of the company’s restaurants are recycling. Besides, the company says it is planning to work with local administrations and environmental associations for better packaging designs, new recycling programs as well as customer and employee education plans for reaching their goals.McDonald’s has incorporated the outcome of fast foods on people’s health as they reduce overall energy consumption. Consequently, McDonald’s uses energy-efficient appliances leading to the cutting of energy wastage by twenty-five percent during the business activities (Armstrong&Green, 2013, p36). The company has also set established green parking lots for preserving them for hybrid vehicles. The parking lots have permeable concrete having the capability to recharge and clean ground water.
The other company which has gone green is dell, a leading computer equipment manufacturer. Aiming at limiting environmental impacts, Dell has encouraged safe disposal of their products through coming up with an efficient and effective recycling program. For instance, Dell is now the world’s largest tech recycler with various applications in seventy-eight countries. The company has achieved more than 71% of the way to its objective of recovering two billion pounds of used electronics by 2020. Besides, much of recycling innovation is coming from the way Dell packages its computers. Also, the company did a pilot program with Newlight Technologies’ Aircarbonin making plastic bags for its notebook computers made from carbon-captured methane gas-based plastics (Laura, 2015, para.4). The startup turns air pollution to plastics. Moreover, Dell also uses wheat straw in most of its cardboard notebook boxes which are shipped from China. For instance, the company allows customers to give back any Dell-branded equipment for free. Therefore, the company enhances safe disposal and decreases the totale-waste count. Dell even accepts printers, computers, and monitors from other companies for safe disposal. Hence, the company proves that social good and sustainability can be a profitable practice for any business.
Google is another company which has made tremendous efforts to go green through slashing energy usage and support of green energy products. Google’s efforts are driven not only by the notion of corporate responsibility but also by business imperatives, that is, going green is smart, efficient and possibly profitable which is the only way of ensuring that there is broad adoption of policies. The renewable programs enacted by Google is a part of the initiatives which are designed for reducing and making the company’s energy consumption more efficient. For instance, the company has honed its energy consumption through the use of its data and computing capabilities to ensure its facilities are running in the most efficient way. According to the company’s statistics its data centers now have 3.5 times more computing power from a single energy unit when compared to five years ago (Paul et al., 2016, p.125). Google has constructed the most efficient data center in the world and campaigns for the need for conserving energy as well as using renewable sources and clean energy products. For instance, the company supports and funds green energy projects through purchasing and installing many solar panels and windmills.
Bank of America is another company which went green after realizing the need for promoting a sustainable environment.The bank of America is committed to improving the situation in how it approaches global business strategy, working with partners, supporting of employees, making own operations more sustainable as well as managing issues and governing own activities.For instance, the bank was able to cut its paper requirement by thirty-two percent within five years. Consequently, the bank of America began an internal recycling program where it has achieved success through recycling almost thirty thousand tons of paper annually (Rossi et al., 2016, p368). The annual amount of paper conserved translates to conserving about two hundred thousand trees. Besides, the company provides three thousand dollars cash-back reward to employees shifting to using hybrid cars.
Positive Environmental Effects of Going Green
The green living movement inspires people to live more environmentally friendly and that there are various ways of going green. As most people acknowledge that going green is good for the earth, they might wholly understand the extent of the impacts. Therefore, going green has numerous positive side effects for the environment which contribute to clean water and air, preserving natural resources and reducing global warming impact.
The first environmental positive effect of going green is reducing the pollution entering the water, soil, and air. Through the use of alternative energy sources and avoiding burning fossil fuels, recycling or reducing waste as well as driving more efficiently few pollutants are unconfined to the environment (Ahmad,2015, p.103). According to a study by Environmental protection Agency, the quality of air in the US is gradually improving although as at the year 2008 about 127million Americans were still living in areas having potential hazardous air pollution levels (Diglel&Yazdanifard, 2014, p38).
Besides, few greenhouse gas emissions are another positive effect for the companies which go green. For instance, greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide are imagined to be critical contributing to global warming factors. According to estimates from the US Department of Energy cars release approximately 1.7 billion tons of CO2 every year (Tucker&Faul,2016, p.27). Through reducing the amount of time driven, maintaining a vehicle or operating a green car as hybrid one can help in lowering contribution to the global warming problem.
Resource conservation is also a positive environmental effect resulting from going green. Most of the world’s electric power is generated through the burning of fossil fuels including natural gas, coal, and oil (Flyvbjerg,2014, p.16). Therefore, burning such types of fuels releases greenhouse gases to the air and the limited supply makes them unsustainable in the long-term. Reducing energy consumption by use of alternative energy sources and recycling decreases the strain on such resources and reduces down emissions. For instance, the Environmental Protection Agency indicates that recycling a single plastic bottle conserves energy enough for lightning a 60-watt light bulb for up to six hours.
Moreover, less waste is a positive environmental effect on companies going green. Since going green encourages humans to reduce their consumption, recycle and reuse items it means that less waste will be reduced if all companies follow the practice. Waste reduction helps the environment through decreasing physical quantity ending up in landfills where the waste biodegrades and releases carbon dioxide which enhances greenhouse gas effect (Ghisetti&Rennings,2014, p110). Besides, the Environmental Protection Agency promotes recycling incinerating waste that can produce smoke or even release other potential air harmful pollutants.
The last positive environmental effect forgoing green is the preservation of wildlife. For instance, going green helps in conservation of the habitats for certain wild animal species. According to a study conducted by planet Green, about 137 plants, insect and animal species become extinct daily because of rainforest deforestation (Pagell&Shevchenko, 2014, p.51). Therefore, reduction of consumption of paper products, purchasing recycled ones or recycling whenever it is possiblyhelping in slowing down the extinction rate for species which live in wooded areas. Going green also reduces the threat made to marine wildlife which dies annually due to encountering pollutants or trash in the water supply.
There are many benefits for companies which have gone green. Therefore, every company should consider adopting and integrating sustainability principles and methods into more than one aspect of the business as well as across various organizational levels. Sustainability together with the drive of “going green and conserving” enables companies to attract shareholders, new employees and customers sharing similar values. Therefore, going green improves public views on the company and the products and becomes a positive impact on the business bottom line.
List of References
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