Green Business faces challenges but promises great rewards

Green Business operation is environmentally sustainable operations. It comprises things like minimization of waste and pollution, use of renewable energy, engagement in social responsibility, balancing profit with the health of the planet, and use of sustainable materials.

The need for sustainable business practices now is greater than ever before. Climate change and environmental degradation make it a necessity; it is no longer an option. However, the road to sustainability is not easy. Many businesses face real challenges in this regard.

These challenges include costs associated with human resources, obstacles in implementing sustainable practices, investment in sustainability and a lack of knowledge and expertise. Despite these challenges, Green businesses have an opportunity to defy the odds to not only mitigate the environmental impact but also gain long-term benefits.

Negative growth or no growth of the global economy is one among the biggest untold fears for the world. Every year countries expect a growing economy. The growing economy will have more jobs, rising income, more products, peace and prosperity.  Growth is a word too frequently or commonly used while discussing the world economy, if there is growth everything is fine.

The author in ‘life beyond growth’ argues that economic growth is a short-term solution, when we look at the long term then we see that we live on a finite planet with limited resources. How can growth be expected forever?

Bicycle Problem
It is to be noted that whatever resources a business needs for producing, come from the earth. Nevertheless, the earthly resources have their limit.

‘For a business to be profitable, it must produce as efficiently as possible. The concept of marginal cost to produce more products (which might be very profitable for businesses) encourages businesses to produce more but producing more (which is not required for customers) and pushing it into the market can cause environmental degradation.’

People should realize the limit of products they actually need. This will ensure that future generations have an adequate supply of resources.

Currently, businesses and individuals are in a very strange situation where they are consuming products beyond their necessity without considering the fact that they are spending resources from the earth.

People are consuming at a rate that seems as if we have unlimited resources. The fact is that Earth’s resources are already serving 8 billion people, soon to reach 10 billion. If the unsustainable consumption from the earth goes at the same rate, the consequences for our future generations will be unthinkable.

The dilemma between the economy and the environment is real. “When the economy falters, people suffer; when the economy booms the earth suffers. How can we escape from this  dilemma”? Duncan Green, head of research at Oxfam GB calls it the bicycle problem. “If you don’t keep pedaling, you risk collapse.’’

How can businesses solve the bicycle issue and implement environmentally friendly business practices? The foremost important thing that came up from multiple researches is businesses should understand that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to sustainability.

Challenges for Green Business
In order to compete with traditional firms that do not have to engage in sustainable practices, many traditional businesses find it difficult to incorporate sustainable practices within their organisations. This might result in green firms closing down, which would be bad for the environment.

Researchers say that Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are willing to go to the business green operation but lack the knowledge and expertise to implement it. Many businesses may not know where to start when it approaches implementing green business operations.

Resistance to change is another challenge businesses face when trying to implement green business operations. Employees may be resistant to change or may not recognize the benefits of sustainability. They want to be in their cocoon of comfort.

Way Forward
There are multiple challenges in implementing green business operations. Still, there are ways where they can make it work for them.  Breadsell, Eon, and Morrison suggest that to encourage sustainable consumption there should be changes in multiple practices, including food, waste or mobility practices or individual actions. Individuals’ social and business practices and behaviour should be changed to achieve the sustainable goal.

How can businesses solve the bicycle issue and implement environmentally friendly business practices? The foremost important thing that came up from multiple researches is businesses should understand that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to sustainability.

Every business has distinct opportunities and challenges, therefore developing a sustainability strategy depends on what that specific organization has value in and what kind of sustainable business green process has a higher impact on their operation.

Businesses can look for possible alliances and collaborations with other companies, non-governmental organisations, and governmental bodies to help implement sustainable practices in order to meet the difficulties. For instance, a group of companies could collaborate to share the expense of funding green infrastructure or renewable energy sources.

The government should make sure that businesses that follow sustainable practices are provided with incentives. Businesses should be helped with taxes, provide grants and aid with the initial cost of sustainability investments. Governments around the world should promote the importance of sustainability and implement policies to encourage businesses to adopt green business operations. The importance of Government laws and regulations to promote green business is equally important.

Earth is more than short-term economic growth
The challenges of implementing green business operations present a real problem for businesses and the whole world, but the rewards are significant. Businesses should understand that implementing business green operations has long-term economic benefits in addition to improving the environment we live in.

By addressing the ‘Bicycle issue’, businesses can take the lead in helping to build a more sustainable future for the entire globe. Businesses can reduce the impact they have on the environment, save money on their utility costs, and gain new clients who care about the environment.

(Sharad Neupane, formerly worked with Kathmandu University, is  currently pursuing research studies at Western Sydney University, Australia while simultaneously holding a teaching position at Wentworth Institute of Higher Studies.)