From the pace of Eco-Awareness and involvement of people in green activities, it can be inferred that the importance of environmental sustainability is widely accepted and practiced. Surprisingly, sustainability of the environment not only impacts the lives of people but businesses as well. You might be aware that when businesses do not consider the environmental aspects of their processes, they could inadvertently be damaging the environment. But, did you know that a business that avoids taking into account the environmental impact of its operations causes more harm to itself?

Like most people, many business entities are also unaware of this fact. Today, we are going to enlighten you about some side-effects on businesses when environmental aspects are not considered. Here are three of the most common side-effects:

1. Unfavorable Working Conditions

The different processes of a business can pollute the environment in different ways and also make working conditions unfavorable. For example, nitrogen oxide released by industrial machinery and volatile organic compounds from paints, gasoline, solvents, and ink when exposed to sunlight,  forms ozone, an odorless and colorless gas that is very harmful for people, as well as the environment. Workers that come into contact with this Ozone gas are always at risk of developing serious health conditions such as a cough, chest pain, throat congestion and irritation, asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. Similarly, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and lead also pose severe risks to the health of workers. This ultimately gives rise to unfavorable working conditions, and  the ill-health of workers at a workplace directly affects productivity.

In order to make the working conditions favorable, a business should take steps to reduce emissions that could be responsible for its workers’ ill-health. Following favorable policies and upgrading its operations are two steps that businesses can take that are crucial to preventing environmental, as well as personal loss.

2. Increased Costs and Lack of Workforce

The second side-effect is somewhat a continuation of the first one. The costs to cover pollution (such as taxes) and its impact (on staff or workers) are some of the biggest burdens a business faces. When a business operates in a heavily polluted area, people may be reluctant to work there, fearing that it might damage their health; hiring and retaining the appropriate workforce becomes really difficult and time consuming. Higher wages can attract the right people, but as they escalate costs, most businesses cannot afford that. In addition to increased costs, pollution hurts businesses where investment is concerned. Investors might be more reluctant to invest in companies operating in high pollution areas.  

If businesses want to produce eco friendly lifestyle products in a safe manner without increasing their costs, they should ensure they do not operate in heavily polluted regions. If they are already operating in such locations, the best option is to move to an area with less pollution. 

3. Disappointed Shareholders

Shareholders are people or entities who believe in the way a business is operated and put their money into the business, expecting that they will get handsome returns in the future. As you might be aware, shareholders invest in a business only after understanding how it operates and where it is headed, so when they find that a business is harming the environment or not following  government policies that protect the environment, they could lose interest and either withdraw or not invest any further money into that business. You might come across some companies that justify that the harm they have done to the environment is because of their various essential business operations which will eventually increase their shareholder’s wealth. But such companies forget that governments all over the world are becoming very serious about the environment and if businesses violate their environment-oriented policies, huge fines can be imposed and their operations could be banned. This of course would lead to a decrease in productivity and profits, which would be a huge loss to the shareholders.

Businesses that start or have started following green practices, is the perfect solution to this problem. It is also important to inform shareholders about such developments, otherwise the business might miss a chance to impress them and win their confidence back. This will also project a positive image of your business to outsiders.

The environment’s current state is cause for concern all over the world. Increased awareness is helping, but there are still many businesses that are not concerned about the environmental impacts of their operations. They need to understand that not considering the environment is harmful not only for the environment, but for their business as well.

Emmanuel van der Meulen