Today, April 22nd, in honor of Earth Day, I'm participating in Enviance's blogathon, with a new blog posted every hour by a number of guest bloggers, and I've answered the question: What would you define as the most serious environmental risk to our planet and why? You'll also find some great content from my IDC colleagues, also posted as part of our Earth Day celebration at our IDC Insights Community blog: ICT for Sustainability, including Leslie Hand's blog on Earth Day 2011 - Time to Set New
Greatest Risk? Making Lasting Change a Reality
I think one of the greatest risks we face is related to how seriously we regard environmental sustainability. Do we make business changes because of our impact on the environment? Is the response "always", "sometimes", "occasionally", or "never"? Do we take our environmental footprint seriously enough to make lasting change? I'm not convinced the answer is yes for most businesses. We still have quite a ways to go.
A large IT vendor recently said its customers had "green fatigue". On the one hand, I understand why – green marketing is an increasing component of the consumer and business environment, and as a result, we're losing interest in green this and green that. But I don't really think it's a matter of ignoring the environmental impact of our behavior. I think it's more fatigue from a barrage of green claims that can't necessarily (or easily) be verified (and that's another subject that needs attention).
I don't think businesses genuinely have green fatigue or green insensitivity, if I can call it that. But I'm concerned enough to raise the alarm that we run the risk of allowing environmental sustainability to be a fad, much in the way turning down our thermostats to reduce our dependence on oil has had questionable long term impact.
Using IT to Embed Environmental Change into the Business
Given we don't want to leave our treatment of our environment up to an emotional connection that can wax and wane, I think this is a perfect example of why an information technology (IT) based approach is so important. An IT application can be the way to change behavior in a lasting manner long after fads have come and gone. Granted, a company needs to invest in making sure employees actually believe in the application and use the application (no workarounds allowed!). But the benefit is that environmental consciousness becomes embedded into the business process, using an IT approach that makes environmental data and information easier to collect, more accurate, and more visible. And we need that information to support a new way of thinking and a new set of decisions that make environmental sustainability second nature to our businesses.
Let me know what you're doing in honor of Earth Day, or what you're doing every day to help your business become more environmentally sustainable.