Green Business

Green Business

As an opening generalization, environmental (or “green”) issues revolve around concepts such as pollution, degradation of the environment and ecological sustainability. An established subtopic of environmental concerns is whether green business is good business. Effective green business is any business that is both economically and environmentally sustainable, that operates in an environmentally friendly fashion and leaves the smallest environmental footprint (or impact) upon surrounding ecologies. The supposed problem is that many businesses claim that they cannot be economically viable while being ecologically sustainable. In truth, environmental sustainability, with inherent concepts such as recycling and conservation, is extremely geared towards efficiency. At some point in the future, economic agencies such as companies and factories will need to be ecologically sustainable to be economically viable – to generate profit through savings on waste for example. Reducing waste is seen as a key factor for saving on the bottom line according to Timi van Houten, director of Basingstoke’s Greener Graphics (Creasey, 2007, p.34). Savings via this method are known as eco-efficiencies (Bleischwitz, & Hennicke, 2004, p.iii).

Therefore, it appears it is a problem of adaptation of certain sectors of our major polluting industries until this societal and economic change takes place. This change is known as “the Green Revolution”. It has always had roots in post-Industrial Revolution society – in Germany in the early part of the century (Hay, 2002,  p.191), in the US with the Hippie movement of the 1960s and again in Germany during the 1990s politically with the success of the various Greens parties (Bomberg ,1998, p.13; Smith, Paterson, & Padgett 2003, p.257). This revolution (Redclift & Woodgate, 1997, p.329) is resurgent again and will effect the economic planning of almost all institutions, including commercial companies. The greening change this society is undergoing has been described as an “environmental zeitgeist” (Jones, 2006, p.23) that has certainly gripped the consumer. It is this inevitable change towards environmentalism that business must adapt to and managers especially be aware of according to Capra and Pauli (1995, p.54)

Is green business good business? It would appear with societal, ecological and economic changes being wrought to this system that green business will be inevitable. It is up to individual stakeholders as to whether they conduct good or bad business with the basic requirements of green business of the future. It will only stand to reason that the greener the business in such a setting, the more efficient and profitable it will be. With inroads by even the nuclear industry in setting itself as a ‘green industry’ this change can be seen to be taking place. In Japan, the ecologically inept policy of whaling unto extinction is recast and defended by the whaling front organization, the Centre of Cetacean Research. In these examples it can be observed that those businesses as far removed from environmental friendliness as one could be are making pretences of environmental awareness. It is the intent of this writer to demonstrate that if such companies so involved in anti-environmental activities such as the production of nuclear waste (that pollutes for over 100,000 years and can cause mutation, meltdown and death) for electrical power and industrial whaling (whose target species such as the humpback continually verges upon extinction) for food companies are making moves towards even a pretence of green business (Rowell, 1996, p.103), these green changes must be occurring to a greater extent in what would be defined as “good business”.

The concept of sustainability dates back to a period earlier (Roberts, 1995, p.217) than the German folk movement of the early 20th century (Zhao, 2004, p.56) with the term first being used in 1713 by the German forester, Hans Carl Carlowitz. He developed the concept of only felling enough trees that could be grown again. Particularly with raw resources used in industry such as forestry, environmental sustainability equates with economic sustainability. Devastating local assets destroys industry and economy. Local resources must be conserved and dispensed carefully. Bourne through this economic sustainability dependent upon environmental sustainability is corporate responsibility. A corporation cannot be fiscally responsible without possessing corporate responsibility.

Corporate responsibility has recently been factored into the economic equation of environmental concerns with the introduction by governments of carbon taxes and carbon credits. Carbon taxes attempt to limit pollution while carbon credits give unclean industries the ability to transform by buying the limited right to pollute (however, carbon credits have been criticized for encouraging this very right to pollute). Carbon credits diffuse the damage a polluting company is doing to the environment with the replacement of trees and other carbon-reducing programs. The formulations of systems such as carbon crediting demonstrate corporate responsibility where green business is good business. In this way we can see the changing corporate environment today. Siemens is such a modern business organization that is incorporating environmental sustainability as a part of its corporate responsibility (Zhao, 2004, p.62). Siemens demonstrates the business acumen in corporate responsibility through its seventh corporate principle of sustainability: safeguarding its workforce through continuing environmental and educational programs for safety and development. Through this plan of sustainability, Siemens has reaped large rewards in cost savings, such as the implementation of the business process re-engineering (BPR) that have delivered revenue enhancements of $AU30 million (Zhao, 2004, p.59)

The British example demonstrates that consumers are seeing green business as good business. Broadly speaking, the British population is divided into five segments: the environmental pioneers and vocal activists groups which make up 8% of the population as opposed to the 26% of onlookers who only participate in a limited fashion. Between these two groups are the conveniently conscious and the positive choosers who have an immense effect (Tiltman, 2007, 28). In this way the populations of Western countries are unlikely to suffer an exhaustion of their desire for green business, products and services as suggested by Jones (2006, p.23) within the foreseeable future.

Tertiary institutions such as Deakin University prepare students for the workplace by instilling them with green good business practices. An example of this is the Master of Business Administration which specializes in Environmental Sustainability (n.a. 2008).

Including in its course structure such components as SQE721 Policy and Planning for Sustainable Development, SQE722 Environmental Risk Assessment, SQE723 Environmental Management Systems, AIP740 Public Policy Analysis, AIP773 Governance and Accountability, AIP774 Public Management, AIP775 Contracting and Public Private Partnerships, and AIP777 Accountability and Corporate Social Responsibility, it instructs students how to participate in business in a green and environmentally sustainable manner. Academic institutions can assist in the preparation of students for the green workplace by continuing to teach them about the newest trends in environmental awareness and sustainability which are often generated in these centers of learning.

Small business is also making strides in good green business. These businesses are the most likely to go green as they can quickly change and adapt to the new green business environment. The most likely to be start-ups, new small businesses can afford to adopt green policies from the outset for cost-savings and efficiencies. An example is Pierre Blanche’s (‘Greener Backyard Solutions’ which is a grassroots program to set up organic and self-sustaining vegetable gardens in suburban people’s backyards to supply local businesses with green groceries. This low-scale operation works using community spirit and the will towards a greener environment. Waste is automatically factored for with any oversupply in vegetables being donated to local soup kitchens to feed the poor. A barter system has been set up where businesses can trade in “green points’ locally to add to their finances. The effort has even spread to the use of local advertising with encouragement given to local businesses to swap to more ecologically-viable forms of advertising, cutting down on costly printing overheads (MME 101 Interview transcript of Blanche, Pierre)..

As it is self-evident in this work, the writer feels that it is most important to practice green policies when transacting business. In a future where the environment will be forced to be included in the margins of companies, good green business practices will mean efficiencies and savings for companies. Already many companies are green and many policies of good economics maintain facets of environmental sustainability. For a long time, companies have needed to have corporate responsibility to be fiscally responsible. The must insure a steady flow of raw resources and labour that is unpolluted and safe. It is nothing new to most companies to make efficient reductions in wastage or to be custodians of the local environment to insure continuing economic success.

In conclusion whether green business is good business can be summarized as the following: it appears society will soon need to factor the environment into the bottom line. In such an economic environment, only those companies that make efficient use of the ecology in a non-polluting fashion will be successful. Unclean industries will need to adapt or fall by the wayside if continuing ecological effects are felt globally. Green business only appears as bad business due to the mindset that post-Industrial Revolution nations labour under – especially at high levels in the business hierarchy as opposed to those at the grassroots (Kaplan & Norton, 2001, p.372). Green business can be made good business – it only requires effort and adaptation that will be required inevitably anyway by unacceptable ecological circumstance delivered to us by unclean industries in the first place.



Bleischwitz, Raimund & Hennicke, Peter 2004 ‘Eco-Efficiency, Regulation and Sustainable Business: Towards a Governance Structure for Sustainable Development,’ Edward Elgar Publishing, p.iii

Bomberg, Elizabeth 1998 ‘Green Parties and Politics in the European Union,’ Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Capra, Fritjof & Pauli, Gunter A. 1995 ‘Steering Business Toward Sustainability,’ United Nation University Press.

Creasey, Simon 2007 ‘Greener Growth,’ Printing World,, MME 101 Deakin University.

Hay, P.R. 2002 ‘Main Currents in Western Environmental Thought,’ Nature, Indiana University Press.
Jones, Morag Cuddeford 2006 ‘Motoring Ahead: Case Study Toyota,’ Brand Strategy, May, MME 101 Deakin University.

Kaplan, Robert S. & Norton, David P. 2001 ‘The Strategy-Focused Organization: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment,’ Harvard Business School Press, p.372

n.a. 2008 ‘Deakin University Course Guide’ Deakin University Home Page,

Redclift, M. R. & Woodgate, Graham. 1997 ‘The International Handbook of Environmental Sociology,’ Edward Elgar Publishing.

Roberts, Peter 1995 ‘Environmentally Sustainable Business: A Local and Regional Perspective, Sage, p.217

Rowell, Andrew 1996 ‘Green Backlash: Global Subversion of the Environmental Movement,’ Nature, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Smith, Gordon; R. Paterson, William E. & Padgett, Stephen 2003 ‘Developments in German Politics,’ Duke University Press.

Zhao, Feng 2004 ‘Siemens’ Business Excellence Model and Sustainable Development,’ Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 8, Number 2, MME 101 Deakin University.
Environmentally Sustainable Business: A Local and Regional Perspective,’ Sage, p.217


MME 101 Deakin University Interview Transcript of Pierre Blanche, manager of ‘Greener Backyard Solutions’, Darling Road, Malvern East.

1.What does your company do?

‘Greener Backyard Solutions’ provides small-scale backyard start-ups for vegetable gardens. Many people do not know how to get their vegetable gardens started and we send around a fully-trained professional who will assist the owner to set up a viable garden or will do it entirely for them. We provide on-going assistance to the disabled who find it difficult to negotiate their gardens physically and also provide ingenious solutions in regard to garden boxes and hanging vegetables for people in upper apartments. We also have in-depth knowledge of both hydroponics and aquaculture set-ups.


2. What specific services do you provide?

We bring harvests in backyards to fruition and demonstrate how to conserve and can fruit and vegetables. We connect local services and trade through a barter system: say a person can provide chicken dung and eggs; they can trade it for fresh vegetables from people who need those resources. We are very much about cutting out the middle man. People once traded these self-sustaining resources and we are reacquainting them with this method.


3. How do you co-operate with local businesses?

We encourage our backyard growers to become local suppliers to the businesses in their area. Thus their produce is fresher and has to travel less of a distance. Many local shops are willing to carry local produce at a large discount which assists the local community. Any over-supply of fruits and vegetables immediately goes into local soup kitchens run by the Salvation Army to assist the poor – therefore our company has corporate responsibility to our local community.


4. What savings does your business pass onto the community?

Our company insures lower costs through eco-efficiency. We encourage our users to utilizes natural and self-produced fertilizers (eg. Cut grass, food scraps collected from local community, apartment block or neighborhood). We encourage the set-up of self-sustaining and environmentally-friendly gardens that conserve water and make use of freely-collected rainwater diverted from waste areas. We support reforestation and the re-establishment of natural pockets of native flora and fauna. We provide a seed banks to insure genetic diversity for our propagated crops. We use no genetically-modified crops, cuttings or seeds to keep gene pools clean. This will guarantee cheap and freely-available food to the common consumer for decades to come.

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