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Businesses can reduce carbon footprints

Peter Makwanya
THE menace of the greenhouse effect is threatening to tear the earth apart as climate change has become the greatest challenge of our time. We cannot be just performing rituals in order to become climate-change-proof. The robust way to deal with this challenge is to channel our doubts and frustrations into constructive action.


In this discussion, one will find a wealth of ways to get started. Of course, not all of them will suit each situation, but hopefully, some will find their way into reader’s work plans.


The most obvious way to take individual action on climate change is to reduce one’s carbon footprint. In this regard, the business sector has to take a lead.


A leading climate change communicator, Hensen (2006), defines carbon footprints as the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that result directly or indirectly from people’s lifestyles.


Yes, it starts with the individual, because climate change is first and foremost human-induced. Carbon is emitted into the atmosphere by human beings through their  industries and other activities.


Therefore, the focus of this debate is on businesses and industries and how they can participate in community greening activities. Before they can undertake social greening responsibilities, businesses  need to regulate their carbon footprints first and come clean on issues of compliance.


They need to walk the talk rather than glossing over on the issue or using it for grandstanding or publicity purposesA Businesses  are responsible for producing goods and services that the individuals use, such as fuels that people burn directly, from houses and from cars. On a large scale, there are emissions from thermal power plants and from myriads of factories.Landfills are also needed where humans throw away garbage. All these become the epicenters of greenhouse gas cultivation.

Businesses need to commit themselves vigorously into investing in low-carbon innovations from energy-saving to recycling. They need to set an example for employees and clients. What this means is that any business concern should not be seen advocating for the lowering of carbon footprints, yet it is a carbon sinner itself.


The business concern has to be on the compliant side for it to advocate for clean energy and eco-friendly business ventures. For a business to participate successfully in community greening obligations, it should have internal policies that support sustainability and energy efficiency. In other words, the business concern should have something to do with the environment or community engagement through conservation activities that improve the lives of  vulnerable people. This would make the business eco-friendly and socially relevant.

Some businesses need to reduce unnecessary travel itineraries, while at the same time investing in tele and video-conferencing, which will save on both carbon emissions and money. What this means is that company executives need not have a penchant for travelling, especially by air as aeroplanes emit a lot of carbon into the atmosphere. Due to technological advancement in information technology, they can hold  video conferences.


They can also simply talk business over the phone. Airlines need to determine the amount of carbon emitted from their travel by means of a carbon credits and donate that money to the needy. At the moment, there is no need for Zimbabwe to worry about polluting its skies from Jet A1 smoke since Air Zimbabwe is grounded. The common sight of smoke that we are used to is from the burning bushes, caused by people hunting for mice, which burning also is not good for the ecosystem.

The manufacturing companies need to work towards making products that use local materials and which are organic. There is also need to deal with the carbon issues surrounding the food production systems. Businesses  should make such information available to consumers. Buyers need to know the carbon intensity of the food they bring home.  Manufacturing and processing companies need to concentrate on organic foodstuffs, which are essential for both the health of individuals and for conserving the environment.


The issue in question here is the carbon impact of grass-fed versus feedlot food. This is where manufacturing companies do not normally come out clean as they do not always label whether their foodstuffs are organic or inorganic, grass-fed or feedlot. Manufacturers always try to play the dangerous game of hide and seek with consumers while at the same compromising their health. Companies need to sponsor education and awareness activities on green buying and green products.

Climate change is not just happening; it is accelerating. It is crucial for businesses to approach the issue of eco-friendly products from an informed point of view. This is not only for the western countries but also for us developing countries. Therefore, through the concept of the global village, we need to be on equal footing with other nations by engaging in environmentally-friendly and sustainable products. Banks need to have long-running commitments to the environment by sponsoring several mitigating and adaptive programmes that counter the adverse effects of sustainable development.


Serious-minded and eco-conscious individuals can volunteer to donate, through their banks,  at least 50US cents each per month to an established environmental fund that caters for green projects that support vulnerable groups in any given society.  The money would be used for vital public education on conservation. This education may include  fire-fighting and prevention skills, water conservation techniques as well as projects that would help the country adapt to climate change. Water security is going to be one of our biggest challenges in the 21st Century as we try to adapt to the changing climate.

Lastly, we should not leave out our uncle, the government. In this game, its moral support and voice adds essential value. The government needs to implement policies that ensure more sustainable and more efficient use of energy by all industries. It is also the government’s duty to tax high carbon emitters and  help support the use  of renewable energy given its low-carbon profile. There must be collaboration with the private sector to fund conservation issues.

In conclusion, a symbiotic working relationship is needed to tackle the vicissitudes of climate change and more than a group effort is needed to complement all conservation efforts  as we are all stakeholders in this discourse of carbon emissions.


  • Makwanya is a climate change communicator   E-mail:kwanyas67@yahoo.com

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