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A green or a sustainable business

Discussing the fundamental differences between being green and sustainable, in a business environment.
green or sustainable
© RMIT University 2017

This section can be summarised with the following sentence: sustainable economy for a green society.

This means that everyone will need to demand less (in terms of land, resources and energy) and adapt to a changing environment in order to maintain and strategically use the available limited natural resources. Think of a green business as one that’s able to minimise its impacts on the environment by adopting renewable resources. The focus is on green products and the ability not to be invasive on the surrounding environment. This unobstructed and harmonious way of doing business would be reflected in the organisation’s policies and procedures that aim to ensure employees, customers and local communities are safe, healthy and motivated.

Such an approach can however be quite narrow, as often it does not take into consideration the sustainability aspect deriving from the business as a whole. As mentioned here and confirmed by national governments, ‘green’ is defined as products or services able to reduce the impacts on the environment or the health of its inhabitants. From a sustainable viewpoint, it is crucial to manage not just the nature of the materials required for the green business, but also how these materials have been collected, transported and applied. It is not only the product that needs to be green, but the entire process that has to be sustainable. If a renewable source (such as wood) has to be shipped from the other side of the world, this would not be considered sustainable, even if totally green. In this light, sustainability is a more holistic concept always mindful about the future. Having a clear distinction between these two words (green and sustainable), which are often used synonymously, will encourage HRM to ensure their focus is not limited to one particular aspect and, at the same time, facilitate the creation of a sustainably green business.

What do you think are the main differences between a green business and sustainable business?
Post your thoughts to the Comments area below.
© RMIT University 2017
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Business Futures: Sustainable Business Through Green HR

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