Profit is a great incentive for any business. The problem is that too many businesses have abandoned social responsibility in the quest for bigger profits. It’s not enough to operate in a way that avoids environmental and human catastrophes like the recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 or the Union Carbide Bhopal disaster of 1984. Building sustainable development, social responsibility and eco-fri endly practices into the heart of business is the way forward, and many enlightened companies are embracing green business and its core principles.

So what is green business? The short answer is that it’s about sustainable development in all its facets. There are several principles that businesses that claim green status must meet. Top of the list is a sincere commitment to environmental principles in all its dealings. Businesses know that there are a lot of people out there who are ethical consumers of goods and services, who vote with their pocketbooks. Some businesses try to cash in on this by superficially greening their brand, but truly sustainable green business embraces sustainable development from top to bottom.

Running a green business means building environmentally sound, socially responsible principles into all the business decisions made. In the business world, the buzzword is the ‘triple bottom line’ or the ‘three pillars’ of green business. They are people, planet and profit.  It’s also become evident that there’s a triple top line too. What that means is that sustainable development has to be built into a green business’s operational design, not added on afterwards piecemeal.

An authentic green business is committed to using green fuels for production and distribution, using eco-friendly technologies in the workplace or factory and a commitment to producing recyclable goods and the recycling process, where applicable. The net result has to be a business that is clearly greener than the competition.  After all, a business that makes no impact in the market, and doesn’t effectively reduce consumption of less green or non-green alternatives isn’t really worthy of the name. In this way, a commitment to advancing eco-friendly business practices and tangible progress is affirmed.

Sustainable development is also fundamentally about people and society. Social sustainability means building in consideration of all the people involved: employees, customers and communities. You can’t have green development without social responsibility. In the case of employees that means respect for human rights and the rights of workers. It also means being responsible to the community who buy or use the goods and services and/or who live in the area(s) that the business operates in. Sustainability is about giving back what you take out. In the social arena that could be educational program, internships and training opportunities or social upliftment schemes.

The key principle guiding green business is inter-connectedness. People, profits and the planet are interconnected. An authentic green business recognizes that and puts that knowledge into practice in everything it does.

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