Probably most of those who are at least considering starting their own business have probably already heard the term: green economy. Does it have anything to do with environmental protection? Indeed. However, it is a holistic approach that takes the environmental issue as a central topic, but goes far beyond it – and founders of any sector are well advised not only to know Green Economy from the start, but to follow it stringently and in their company implement.
Green economy and its special importance for start-ups
Basically, it should already be revealed at this point that Green Economy comprises three specific individual positions, which together form a large whole – not only in individual companies, but generally in an economic area and, that would be the ultimate goal, the economic world. What these individual positions have in common is that they are all very comprehensive, overarching and profound. They are techniques, processes, procedures that were developed in 2012 at the UNCSD conference (external PDF link) in Rio de Janeiro.
This makes the topic so immensely important for entrepreneurs for one central reason: In a young company or one that has yet to be founded, it is much easier and cheaper to apply all these measures to make the start-up directly “green”.
In the opinion of most experts, the green economy is central to the entire economic future. Implementing it now when setting up a business, acting in its spirit right from the start and becoming routine with it, not only ensures a better future viability of the start-up in general . Rather, it is an investment: it is true that all Green Economy measures can also be integrated into existing corporate structures. However, this is a much more difficult process. Then, in many places, an existing routine that probably runs counter to the green economy will have to be broken up and transformed.
Not only can this hamper operational processes, it can also be very expensive due to the sometimes far-reaching changes. In other words: focusing on the green economy right from the start is the cheaper, better choice, as it prevents other routines from developing at first.
Building block number 1 of the Green Economy: Environment
It wouldn’t be called a green economy if a significant part didn’t actually have something to do with environmental protection. However, this point primarily means that your own company does more than just what is stipulated by current laws; these can only be starting points, but not end points.
The core contents are as follows:
- The entire processes of a company are designed in such a way that they are as efficient as possible. This means that full focus is placed on ensuring that everything that is absolutely necessary for the operation of the company and the functioning of its processes is used to the maximum – also with regard to the use of operating and production resources. This not only protects resources, but also reduces operating costs.
- All consumptions, especially in the area of energy, are calculated according to the maxim “as little and as regeneratively as possible, as much as necessary“ aligned. However, this does not only mean making heating, ventilation, lighting and equipment more economical, but also extends to big data; The work of innovative companies (external link), which evaluate enormous amounts of data using AI-based processes, helps to research everything for potential for improvement and thus to ensure maximum and continuous efficiency.
- The company is consistently working to reduce its emissions. It is primarily about gases that are harmful to the climate, toxic or otherwise harmful waste water and other material emissions. However, it also includes noise and light – both factors that can have significant effects, especially locally; for example through the so-called light pollution (external link), which affects the animal population.
- It is ensured that a highly effective material cycle is created. In the very best case, elements that do not come from a recycling source are no longer necessary for ongoing operations. However, this is a point that is not entirely in the hands of entrepreneurs, but has wider implications, such as suppliers and, of course, waste disposal.
At the end of the day, it comes down to one main goal: the “footprint” of a company should always be as flat and small as possible. Ideally, it doesn’t exist at all. This, too, is an ultimate goal of the large-scale efforts of green economy as an all-encompassing economic model.
Building block number 2 of the green economy: growth
Green economy does not only protect the environment directly, but also indirectly. The second building block is an important example of this all-encompassing idea. It’s about economic growth. Specifically, a growth that includes several characteristics:
- The economic growth of a company or an economic area in general is not bought at the expense of the environment. This means that growth takes place in ways that do not lead to increased consumption or increased emissions. However, this growth, also referred to as so-called green growth, is the subject of controversial discussion among experts. It is viewed as difficult to impossible, particularly by environmental experts and critics of capitalism. Sometimes it is even called an illusion.
- Growth is designed to be gentle. All the characteristics of healthy growth (external PDF link) should be fulfilled. That means a policy of small steps, each of which is given the necessary time to consolidate before further action is taken. So a classic, conservative growth.
- Growth is not pursued for its own sake, but only to make the company more robust and future-proof. Not, for example, out of competitive thinking – again a point that individual founders do not have entirely in their hands.
It should be emphasized that this is not about artificially inhibiting growth. Much more care should be taken to ensure that it is generally compatible, harmonious.
This shows very well that the green basic idea not only aims directly at environmental protection, but also at better overall compatibility with the planet and its inhabitants.
Building block number 3 of the green economy: people
Humanity is still a long way from a point where companies can do entirely without human employees. People will therefore not only be a significant part of every company for a long time, they are also a factor in the green economy.
- In principle, companies should do everything in their power to ensure that operations do not represent an additional and/or undue burden for people. The emissions issue mentioned earlier is an important part of this; however, there is more to it than that. Specifically, it is about the employees:
Working in this company should cause as little strain as possible, especially in terms of stress and physical health. On the one hand, this requires founders to create a positive, healthy, humane, friendly working environment and climate, on the other hand, the distribution of tasks must be consistently geared towards the lowest possible level of stress and thus the staffing level must be dense enough.
- The working environment should be characterized by deep satisfaction and flat but existing hierarchies. To do this, it is also necessary to carry out evaluations at regular intervals (external PDF link), i.e. to question employees, carefully analyze their answers and consistently eliminate any shortcomings that arise.
- The company formation takes an integrative approach to staffing and everyday life. This includes both gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities.
- The company is more than just an employer. For most people, their job is the central fixed point around which their entire life is organized. Within the framework of the green economy, founders must therefore also deal with how the big issue of balance can be optimized – not only in terms of work-life balance, but also in the direction of family and partnership. This also includes seeing the employees not just as a human resource who provide the workforce.
- The company should see itself as an important member in its local environment. If possible, the location should also result in feedback effects that go beyond paying trade tax – for example by supporting local associations.
This in turn means that companies are primarily committed to people, all people, especially employees and those who live in the sphere of influence. This is precisely where small start-ups have an advantage: they usually find it a little easier to follow this path because their smaller size means they are more flexible, closer, and more personal.