What does it mean to be green? In today’s society it is a word that can dichotomize or unite. Individuals use it to identify themselves as caring for the environment. Corporations use it as a way to improve their images, a practice that is degrading its eco-friendly connotation. For some, it means reducing your carbon footprint by making changes like buying organic food, using natural cleaning products, and buying energy-efficient appliances. The true meaning of being green, however, is more comprehensive, and encompasses the creation of a sustainable society. Several global initiatives have created declarations to clarify these principles and guide the transition to sustainable development, most notably the Global Green Charter and the Earth Charter.
The Global Greens is a worldwide network of Green parties. In 2001, 800 delegates from 72 countries created the Global Green Charter, which specifies 6 guiding principles to being Green.
Everything on this planet is connected. Therefore we must ensure the integrity of ecosystems and preserve biodiversity. This requires the protection of all life, and the elements that sustain it, such as water, earth, air, and sun.
Poverty is a source of environmental degradation, as well as a major social, ethical, and economic problem. We must ensure the equal distribution of resources throughout the world, reduce the gap between rich and poor, eliminate illiteracy, and build a new citizenship based on equal rights for all.
All citizens should have the power to influence decisions that affect their lives. This involves providing education, transparency, and returning governance to the local communities.
The emphasis of maintaining security should not be placed on the military, but rather on prevention and conflict management. Efforts should be made to remove the causes of war and restrict arms exports.
In order to alleviate the pressure on our natural resources it is necessary to shift society’s focus away from consumption to quality of life. It is critical that we learn to use renewable resources sustainably, and halt the use of non-renewable resources. Since there will be no environmental justice without social justice, we must also work to alleviate poverty.
Respect for diversity
We must defend the rights of all persons, ensure equality, and respect all cultural, religious, sexual, and linguistic differences.
The Earth Charter is a list of ethical principles with the goal of creating a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Recognizing that these elements are interdependent, the charter provides a framework for action and important guidelines to follow.
What does being green mean for business? It means committing to the improvement of the Triple Bottom Line, also called the 3 P’s (people, planet, and profits), a criterion for success that considers social, environmental, and economic factors. Although thinking about success in 3-dimensions sounds overwhelming and expensive, businesses that are pursuing sustainability are becoming more competitive and profitable. The fact is that for a business to be sustainable it has to consider all of these factors. We can no longer have limited and shortsighted views, but rather we need to ensure future abundance for the entire world.
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