Today’s Ignorance, Tomorrow’s Legacy

Environmental issues are the most underestimated and overlooked by employers

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Environmental issues are the most underestimated and overlooked by employers.  With more focus directed towards compliance, less attention is given to what sustainability is all about. Changing the way, we see environmental compliance could be an answer to the forever changing world and new challenges we are facing. If only we took a moment to think about what implications our conduct means to our future generations, then maybe things will change.

The National Environmental Management Act sets standards for employers be comply with in order to minimise adverse environmental impact caused by their activities. But a lot of times these issues are only viewed from a compliance point of view, meaning if there were no punitive measures it would have been almost acceptable to cause environmental damage and get away with not taking responsibility for it.

I must admit, changings one’s mindset to start thinking and seeing environmental issues differently isn’t as easy as it sounds. This will involve a lot of culture change and exemplary leadership for employees to start appreciating the magnitude of environmental problems within their spaces. One definition of legacy is that one referring legacy as “planting a seed in a garden that one never gets to see or benefit from”. This a very powerful statement if we shifted our focus to an Environmental legacy. As employers, what legacy are we leaving for the future generation? Are we mindful of the fact that how we treat the environment today is exactly how the environment is going to treat our kids, in the form of depleted natural resources and environmental health epidemics caused by imbalances in the ecosystem?

Most people talk of a legacy as something they think they benefit from, instead of thinking of it as something selfless one gets to leave for someone else. It doesn't always have to be for one's kids but sometimes for the greater good. So, policies we put I place today might have an impact our grand kid’s lives whether that is positive or negative.

As we set profits targets, we also need to set sustainability targets. Sustainability is defined as “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” Someone might ask, how can we make a difference in how we treat the environment? Small changes can make big difference to our environment. Here’s are few ideas on how we can achieve that:

v  Measure Your Waste – Waste management initiatives to reduce the amount of waste going to a disposal site.

v  Manage the use of natural resources – Our environment doesn’t have an endless supply of natural resources, so we need to use them sparingly.

v  Make our buildings more energy efficient.

v  Making sustainable transport choices

v  Manage your carbon footprint – By accounting for carbon we produce, we can manage it. As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Preventing pollution is necessary for the survival of our planet. The more we embark on pollution prevention measures; we save money in the process. We can turn that into our way of life instead of a just an once event on Arbor day event. Let’s start the month of Spring on an environmentally friendly note and promote environmental awareness in our companies.

Written by Juliet Kekana – Managing Director – De-novo HSE Training and Consulting

For more information on health and safety services, visit our website www.denovohse.co.za

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