Monday, 21 September 2009

Environmental responsibility and charities

Charities, as well as other third sector organizations, play an important role in our society. They form the link between the citizens and the public institutions. In recent years, the prominence for the need to promote environmental responsibility has created a latent demand for action on behalf of the third sector. Looking top-down, local and national authorities have created the institutional infrastructure in this field; spontaneous local actions by individuals and communities are accomplished bottom-up. Now, all that we need is environmental awareness on behalf of the charities, so that they can use public foundations and the will of volunteers or activists.

Generally speaking, charities can act in a responsible way towards the environment in two ways: a. creating greener surrounding in their back office, the same as any corporate would have done. For example – working only with "green" suppliers, creating paperless environment, encouraging employees to come to work without their car. b. working actively to promote environmental responsibility, either by defining it as the charity's core problem, or promoting it as a by-product of the charity's main activity. For example – charities that focus on lowering car traffic by encouraging commuters using other means; charities that purchase products from local suppliers only.

At first glance, these activities are relevant not only to third sector organizations, but to everybody, public and private sector alike. Nevertheless, one crucial difference does exist: since those charities communicate quickly with the community they live in, they should create an environmentally responsible model which everybody can relate to.

For example, suppose a third sector organization decides to purchase computers from its post code area, and to cut stationery budget. On the one hand, these actions are good, since much less paper will be wasted. On the other hand, one should take into account the marginal cost of the new computers in terms of maintenance and cleaning; as well as the negative effect that will surely hit local stationery shops.

That is to say, each positive pro-environment action, encapsulates the negative effects that will occur to those people. Firms and organizations that cannot adjust themselves to the new era. Environmental responsibility is, with no doubt, the new buzzword. Nevertheless, it should be used selectively, without the need to scrutinize and "green" each and every action we do.

1 comment:

  1. We should be responsible to everything that God has given, especially in our environment.