Overproduction and overconsumption are destroying nature and depleting resources. If this does not stop, humanity will face an imminent crisis related to freshwater shortages, air and soil pollution, and climate change. Responsible production and consumption will help slow down damaging processes.
The aggregate weight of all people is only 0.01% of the weight of all living beings on Earth. However, humanity and its activities are responsible for the diminution of flora and fauna, climate change, depletion of natural resources, and massive pollution. Analysts of the World Economic Forum (WEF)
note in a report on natural risks, which they prepared together with PwC experts, that 90% of negative environmental changes over the past half-century are related to the economy, politics, consumption, and other activities of people.
Mahatma Gandhi — 'The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed.'
The risks of uncontrolled use of the planet's resources for the economy
seem to be obvious. However, usually, we can see only a part of the scale since environmental problems can be hidden deep in the logistics and production chain. Earlier, experts from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, unites 36 of the most developed countries) estimated that only soil degradation brings the world economy from $ 6 trillion to $ 11 trillion in annual losses
The extinction of species, the depletion of natural resources, and climate change
affect people and the world we live in. The fight for natural resources is one of the weighty reasons for the flaring up of more and more military conflicts. Trade, agriculture, rural communities, the well-being and health of millions of people are directly dependent on the state of the environment. Therefore, the fight against climate change, the depletion of resources is vital for the prosperity of humanity.
A responsible approach to land and water use alone is an additional $4.5 trillion
of global economic growth over the next ten years (reforestation, artificial meat, reducing food waste, and so on). Sustainability is not a goal but a long process that is implemented progressively. It is crucial not only the conscious attitude of people but also the adjustment of the entire system in an environmentally friendly way.
Today, according to a Nielsen study, 81% of people around the world believe that businesses should take care of the environment. The topic has ceased to be a lesson from the school curriculum and has become a central factor influencing decision-making. The business sector has caught the change in public sentiment. The demand for sustainability quickly turned into a marketing trend. Products positioned as eco-friendly are selling better, as a recent study by New York University
proves. The analysis of consumer behavior in 2013-2018 showed that "green" goods are not just better to buy - their presence has a positive effect on the growth of the entire product category.
Behind the beautiful campaigns in green colors and loud statements about eco-actions often hides little real action - this phenomenon is called "greenwashing" by environmentalists. The globalized system of production and sale of goods causes irreparable damage to nature around the world. Despite brands' assurances that they are ready for change, they still generate emissions of tons of carbon
from transporting goods, huge consumption of fresh water for growing cotton, pollute soil and rivers with dangerous chemicals, and use places for production in developing countries where workers are not paid decent wages. There are many cases when in the absence of strict regulation of the information placed on the label, manufacturers created the appearance of a safe and environmentally friendly product
. But even truly natural and organic cosmetics can raise questions if produced in an unethical way or in non-recyclable packaging. In such cases, this is another pursuit of the trend and response to consumer demand and not a truly environmentally friendly product.
Criticism does not prevent many companies from taking serious and multifaceted steps to reduce their carbon footprint and establish more environmentally friendly business processes.
Notable results are already achieved in the energy savings through renewable sources, which have become more affordable in recent years; the packaging and the rejection of disposable things are also advanced. Large-scale social responsibility programs are going to develop equality and ensure the well-being of vulnerable social groups.
But can big businesses be successful and at the same time environmentally friendly and sustainable? Researchers agree
that in today's incarnation, big business is at odds with the ecosystem
, requiring endless growth and having limited resources. Until companies rebuild under the framework of the biosphere, they will remain in conflict with it.
The good news is that more and more companies are taking proactive steps to reduce their negative impact. The bad news is that they are still not enough, and there is less time for a change. Environmental responsibility should be one of the key points in the business plan of every company. Then you do not have to spend effort on correcting errors and reconfiguring business processes. One small action inside the production or in the office today will help to avoid a global environmental catastrophe in the future. That is why it is crucial for businesses, as each of us, to think about it today.
New realities and growing demand from consumers are opening extra business opportunities. The desire to take care of the environment, implemented at the level of not just reputational solutions, but key business processes, should contribute to strengthening the business in the long term.
Moving to safer energy schemes and striving for locality help reduce costs and free up capital for necessary improvements and adaptation to changing living conditions. The offer of new products created in balance with the environment will satisfy the demand of more demanding buyers who are increasingly thinking about where, how, and from what goods are produced. There is still a lack of a critical mass of such consumers for major change, but their number is steadily growing and gives the entire system a chance to change before it is too late.