What is going green? Going green is a new concept that is trending in many sectors of society and business due to the increased awareness of the need to become conscious of our environment as a result of the many environmental problems that are facing planet earth. As a result of the increasing environmental concerns such as climate change, civil society, governments, and the private sector have developed local, regional, and international policies that promote this concept. Most of these policies target businesses and consumers in general to adopt eco products and eco practices that will result in maintaining our environment for sustainability reasons.
Why businesses and individuals go green?
For businesses, going green is adopting both eco products and eco practices that eliminate or reduce environmental burdens. Going green for businesses is profitable in the long-term depending on what strategies are taken by a specific brand to make it socially responsible both in the short and long-term. In most cases, going green is a voluntary action, but in some areas when it has to do with air pollution or climate change, the government may use regulation, to cause businesses in specific sectors to develop innovations for reducing their environmental burdens. Environmental impacts can take the form of solid waste that normally ends-up in a land-fill or liquid waste that may end up in water bodies (rivers, lakes, or even oceans).
Environmental impacts can also result in air pollution and adopting sustainable innovations will help to reduce or eliminate air pollution resulting from greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) or other potentially harmful gases like sulfur dioxide (SO2). With such innovations (e.g., a gas scrubber), pollution levels are reduced or eliminated to acceptable levels that will not have potentially harmful long-term effects on the environment or affecting the health of neighboring communities.
For homes or individuals, going green is mostly a voluntary action as a result of behavioral change resulting from environmental campaigns from government, civil society, or the private sector. However, some individuals go green because of their core values inbuilt in their belief system that cause them to invest in eco products or eco-friendly practices that have a potential positive impact in their lives and or the environment in general.
1. Going green at home
Going green is a concept that revolves many sectors in energy, transportation, manufacturing, design, food, health, and many other industries that help to build the national or the global economy. As a result, since all these sectors involve the end-user or consumers, many innovations both eco products and eco practices have been developed in each of these sectors to target consumers that are environmentally conscious about their carbon footprint or environmental impact. As such, consumers are increasingly becoming aware of the following behaviors as it relates to the environment:
- The type of energy to adapt and have minimal effects on the environment such as sustainable green solutions, i.e., go green solar, biogas, wind power, energy efficiency lights (LEDs), etc
- The type of transportation to use, i.e., using green transportation such as electric vehicles, public transport, eco hybrid cars or using sustainable biofuels to fuel vehicles (bio-ethanol, bio-diesel, etc.)
- Buying eco products produced with cleaner or green production manufacturing systems (e.g., sustainable manufacturing) or eco products designed with materials that are nontoxic, biodegradable or that can be recycled easily or whose packaging (containers) can be recycled. Examples of eco products include green paper products (green paper), organic cleaning products, and other eco-friendly home products that help your home to stay clean, healthy while reducing your carbon footprint or environmental impacts.
- Going green is both an environmental and a health conscious effort. By adopting eco-friendly home products and food sourced from sustainable agricultural eco products (organic products), such adoption is suitable for both the health of an individual and the environment in the long-term. However, even though going green in the short-term can be expensive, in the long-term, it will save you money that could have been used to fix issues resulting from unsustainable practices. Hence, a win-win for both your health and the environment.
- When it comes to food; going green revolves around products produced using sustainable agriculture, i.e., in most cases using organic farming and other sustainable practices. Nowadays, some certifications will help to certify agricultural products that meet sustainable agricultural standards. For instance, Rainforest Alliance was the first independent, third-party certification in 1993 that certified the first banana plantation to meet Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standards. SAN standards help to conserve forests or other natural ecosystems prohibiting their conversion to cropland, protect workers and wildlife while regulating the use of chemicals and other farming practices.
2. Going green at work
Going green at work will depend on with various factors including, but not limited to the type of business that you conduct, your processes, and generally, the kind of waste created from your work system put in place.
The nature of your business refers to what is your core business i.e. are you a service or product oriented company? Service companies could be marketing agencies, law firms, government, hospitals, or social organizations like churches, etc. Product companies could refer to manufacturing, design, agricultural or hotels and other businesses which deal with developing and coming up with an end-product.
Because companies are in the business of creation, going green for them, have to do with their product design or the business model or practices that are adapted to go green while being socially responsible in their business operations.
- Product or design companies: Manufacturers and design companies will go green when they develop eco products that are sustainable, i.e., profitable and that improve the lives of people, and that is good to the environment. Investing to create a viable product will help to build the brand of the company, for example as a corporate socially responsible entity and because of the current sustainability issues that the world is facing today such as climate change, eco products will tend to win the attention of consumers who are increasingly becoming aware of the going green concept. Companies can innovate and come up with sustainable products, and today, there many many sustainability tools online that can help companies to develop eco products or sustainable products. You can learn more about these sustainability tools here.
- Service-oriented companies: Because service companies are not making products, going green for these types of companies can take the form of greening their processes, i.e., adopting green procurement in their business operations and developing eco-sustainable solutions such as looking for ways to reduce, reuse and recycle to eliminate waste. Such companies can also explore green energy solutions such as going solar or adopting green office ideas. You can learn more about these example companies going green in this blog.
For both product and service-oriented companies, going green or implementing sustainability can involve a lot of examples, and the above are just a few examples. This blog: switchingtosolarpv.com attempts to provide such examples and present case studies of companies that are already implementing going green ideas to save money and the environment at the same time. Also, going green and corporate social responsibility compliment each other and can be used to help companies build a brand that consumers can trust and remain competitive even when sustainability issues like climate change demand companies to innovate more in the business world.
What is the first step before going green for both businesses and individuals?
With the above few examples of going green; the first step of going green usually starts with knowing your sustainability impact as an individual or business and then creating an action plan that will help with making progress will making continuous improvements along the sustainability path.
Because climate change is one of the most challenging sustainability issues, calculating your carbon footprint will help you gain an understanding of how your actions and lifestyle will impact the planet. Getting to know your carbon footprint estimate is only the beginning and you might be surprised by the figures you get.
When it comes to reducing your carbon footprint the location or geographical location does matter because any activity such as switching to solar energy done in any part of the world will have a global impact and it can be experienced anywhere in this world. The reverse is true; any trees cut down in any location anywhere in the world will also have the same effect. Please see the below calculator to help you determine your carbon footprint.
Also, there are various online tools in the world wide web that can help you track your actions or choices to determine what impact they will have on the sustainability path. A good example is yousustain.com.
So, what is going green in simple terms?
Going green based on the above background it is, knowing your sustainability impact and acting on it to reduce your specific environmental burdens through continuous improvement. Today, there are various innovations for helping us to move towards sustainability, including but not limited to clean energy, energy efficiency, and conservation, adoption of eco products and sustainable practices or approval of other green sustainable solutions that affect our sustainability actions and carbon footprint. However, as we have noted going green is meant to help us achieve sustainability, and these two concepts go hand in hand and since sustainability is measurable; it is a good thing to determine your current status, adopt sustainability and measure progress as you improve towards the process of going green. Going green is a process that can also be conducted by cities, countries, individuals, companies, or even communities.
One simple action that can help you start today towards going green is estimating your carbon footprint using the below carbon footprint calculator and determine how much you can offset by going solar. This carbon footprint calculator combines all your current actions, such as the impact of your energy consumption, the type of vehicle you drive, and the consumer products you are currently using. It then shows you the impact results of each of your actions in the results section.
The solar energy calculator gives you the information you need to know to help you decide whether solar energy is right for you.