J500 Media and the Environment

Recipe for Success by staceyc08
November 6, 2008, 12:14 pm
Filed under: Business + Politics, Energy + Climate | Tags:

As I reflect on our service-learning project, my thoughts fall on something said by Jamie Green of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  He said of businesses:  “Helping your bottom line is the cake and helping the environment is the icing.”  If sustainable practices such as conserving energy save businesses money and increase their bottom lines, then do we definitely have a recipe for success?  I would like to think the answer is yes.
I will admit that when I first started researching businesses and their affect on the environment, I was already jaded.  Because industry is responsible for approximately a third of the emissions, which contribute to climate change, uses enormous amounts of energy and creates tons of waste, I regarded most businesses as greedy money makers.  My viewpoint has changed, however. 

By talking with the Chamber, I learned that businesses in our metropolitan area are adopting processes that do not harm the environment.  From my group mates’ interviews, I learned that small businesses face many challenges, and at the end of the day, many are trying to keep their doors open and take care of the employees who depend on them.  Some large businesses, which look like the big guys with all the money, are actually giving back by using their expertise in architecture, engineering or similar to help other businesses achieve change.


So back to that recipe — I still think we have a long way to go, but I can’t help but be optimistic.  Businesses in other communities are making similar changes, and now I look at all the emissions, energy use and waste as opportunities, where a big impact can be made to help the environment.  I hope that our messages will contribute to that change, and I am grateful for having had this opportunity.




6 Comments so far
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How do you think a prolonged recession would affect the environmental behaviors of large and small businesses?

In talking with some work colleagues, I’m finding that most of them are facing steep budget cuts in 2009. And while they need the “cake,” they might not be able to afford the “icing.”

So, on the one hand, I could see some green initiatives having a tough time getting off the ground in the next year. But with an Obama presidency, businesses could face more stringent environmental regulation.


Comment by chrisr11


I really like the quote you included about cake as the bottom line and the icing being able to help the enviornment. I think the business world is beginning to make some very important strides when it comes to their enviornmental actions and they have the power to make a big difference. I’ve seen a lot of changes recently at my company and I’m glad that the KC Chamber is also taking the initiative to help companies across the area. As a member of the workforce, I understand the emphasis on the bottom line but also want my company to help the enviornment. I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too!

Comment by michellec1

We have talked a lot in class about always “going green” and no one been a “green saint”. However, I think we ought to look at the pitfalls of looking at business environmentalism as being economically driven. If it is cheaper to use efficient light bulbs, it is not green business, it is just business; let’s not pat ourselves in the back. I heard on NPR that with gas now around the $2 mark, sales of SUVs and trucks are going up again.
The icing and cake approach works well if we are talking about people, about individuals. But I think that businesses (as much as we anthropomorphize them for clarity’s sake) are entities which behave according to different rules and parameters.


Comment by alejandrooj840


I agree that companies are starting to investigate better habits. Consumers or their customers also play a big role by asking more questions about how a company contributes to the reduction of climate change. As more customers become educated and know what questions to ask of the companies they do businesses with these businesses will be motivated to make even more changes.

Thank you,

Comment by vanessar05

Chris, you raise a good question. I think a recession would unfortunately affect the environmental behaviors of businesses large and small. In our interviews, we often heard that initial capital is a big part of making these changes. With a recession, businesses won’t have that money and they also might not have the labor to implement the changes, if layoffs occur.

With the change in administration, I also see regulations coming into the scenario and playing a part, but from what we learned, those are often incentives, albeit not ones businesses like, that create change.

Thanks for your question and comment!


Comment by staceyc08

Vanessa, I’m thankful that consumers’ perceptions of a company are powerful and can affect companies’ practices. I can’t help but think about McDonald’s change from polyfoam clamshells to paper wrappers for its burgers because it wanted to improve its image and appear as a more socially- and environmentally-responsible company.

As consumers become more astute about environmentalism and climate change, and companies’ role in that, I agree that companies will have to make changes in order to stay in business.

Thanks for your comment!


Comment by staceyc08

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