Greening of business: A step towards sustainability

AuthorLakshmi Viswanathan,George Varghese
Date01 May 2018
Published date01 May 2018
Greening of business: A step towards sustainability
Lakshmi Viswanathan |George Varghese
Research Scholar, Institute for Financial
Management and Research, Chennai, India
George Varghese, Research Scholar, Institute
for Financial Management and Research,
Chennai, India.
JEL Classification: Q51; Q56; Q57
The rising awareness of consumers regarding the adverse effects of the ever increasing ecological
footprint has given rise to green consumerism. The idea is often encouraged but it can be
enhanced only by a collective effort of consumers, firms, and governments. The article builds
on the existing literature on green consumerism where it is, by and large, misconceived to be uni-
directionalsuch that the burden of reducing human impressions on ecosystem falls only on the
shoulders of consumers. The study reasons about the need for consumer initiatives to be sup-
ported with relevant policies and regulations from the government and through socially respon-
sible corporate actions.
The authors explore multiple dimensions of green consumerism and analyze in detail the scope
and reach of green business practices in our ongoing strive to sustainability. The article highlights
the actions required from the firms to make use of the opportunities provided by green consum-
erist ideas and the evolving consumer base. It explores the ways in which a business can adopt to
become socially responsible by reaching green consumers. The article further identifies the need
and impact of green marketing for ecofriendly products, to penetrate to the expanding consumer
The principal defect of industrial way of life with its ethos of expan-
sion is that it is not sustainable. Its termination within the lifetime of
some born today is inevitable unless it continues to be sustained for
a while longer by an entrenched minority at the cost of imposing great
suffering on rest of mankind.
The Ecologist (1972)
The conventional mode of development suggests an expansion of
activities that leads to economic development. It demands to integrate
the local economies with the unrestricted flow of goods and capital.
This model of growth calls for an enhancement in industrialized growth
by making use of the available natural resource base. However, eco-
nomic growth does not always bring expected benefits. The benefits
of development without environmental concern are seldom sustained.
As the rate of development increases so does ecological disasters.
Brown (1972) pointed out that in 1950, when Gross World Product
was over a trillion dollars, ecological catastrophes were few. In 1970,
when Gross World Product nearly tripled, rapid eutrophication of
lakes, oil spills, fish kills, devastating floods arising from deforestation,
and so forth became more frequent. The increasing social inequity
and serious ecological constraints associated with the conventional
development mechanism calls for an alternative model that ensure
Every living organism is a recipient of the benefits of nature. From
a single individual to a whole nation, it has an impact on the balance of
nature as they consume from it. Ecological footprint attempts to esti-
mate the extent of human impact on the earth's ecosystems. As
defined by the pioneers of the concept, Wackernagel and Rees
(1998), ecological footprint measures the amount of biologically pro-
ductive land and sea area a person, a community, a town, a country,
or humanity as a whole uses to produce the resources that it consumes
as well as to absorb the waste human economy generates and com-
pares it against what is available for the same. Thus ecological footprint
represents the critical natural capital requirements of a defined econ-
omy or population in terms of the corresponding biologically produc-
tive areas (Wackernagel et al., 1999). Factors such as population size,
technology use, and ecological productivity attribute to the area of
the footprint. But for most of the highly industrialized regions, the
footprint exceeds what is naturally available (Wackernagel & Rees,
1998). Exhausting the very resources that sustain human life and bio-
diversity at a rate higher than what is required for them to replenish
themselves leads to an ecological overshoot. Thus, overshoot occurs
when the resource regenerating capacity of the ecosystem and its abil-
ity to absorb carbon dioxide emissions is exceeded by the human
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the
public, commercial, or notforprofit sectors.
Received: 10 January 2018 Accepted: 16 January 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1705
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1705.
Copyright © 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of6

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