We often hear about sustainable businesses, plans, ideas and suggestions to reduce environmental impact for production systems, but the same kind of attention lacks drastically when instead of talking about the manufacturing industry we switch to services companies. According to surveys, 80% of Italians think the main cause of air pollution and all the illnesses related to it are to be attributed to the secondary industry. This widespread perception seems to be quite incorrect if we take a closer look at reality which shows 75% of manufacturing industries commit to sustainable investments in order to redevelop production facilities and to reduce their environmental impact as much as possible.
Even if this commitment doesn’t solve the pollution issue at the core, we need to take into account the initial condition all the industries faced when at the beginning of the new millennium, the word “sustainability” really started to show up in the public debate. It’s pretty evident no entrepreneur in the 19th century considered the environmental impact their factory could have caused and this behaviour quietly remained the same until the 90s with very few exceptions. A change of perspective also meant radically changing the approach both to management and production, the implementation of new technologies, not to mention the amount of time needed to test the new procedures and performances. In addition to that, entrepreneurs found themselves in the unfortunate moral position of putting a remedy to the mistakes their predecessors made.
What comes as a surprise is a difference in terms of redevelopment actions which seem to be more significant for the secondary sector rather than farming and services. Intensive farming remains the third major agent for greenhouse gases emissions and at the same time victim of the same pollution it generates (draught, climatic events etc.). The third sector shows some big issues concerning the constant increase in the use of electricity since 1990 with a worrying acceleration since 2005.
The perception of “who pollutes the most” is utterly inaccurate if we refer to transports. People are aware of how each one of us, simply by driving their car from home to work, can cause a little damage to the environment. The main danger here is to avoid considering all the other transportation we use without actually using them. Take an online purchase for instance: a t-shirt that was made in China and that is shipped from a New York-based shop to your house in Florence has travelled more than some humans do in 10 years.
What can we do to fight environmental decline concretely? No, it doesn’t have to be an impossible question. Even if specific regulations have to be made by governments, as well as monitoring the industries to make sure rules have been applied correctly, we individuals cannot stand on the sidelines watching the boat sink. We need to let go of the way we think now, this idea that our little actions don’t really matter in the big picture. Making the right thing doesn’t mean just throwing a plastic bag into the right recycling bin, it also means being that clerk who (without any effort whatsoever) doesn’t print on 50 paper sheets if he doesn’t really need to.
There can be so many actions we can do differently if we think of them differently. Since 2020, here at Parsec we chose to challenge our lifestyle by adopting trees and repopulating the Valtiberina area while outweighing the CO2 emissions of our company fleet.
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A sustainable company can exist, but it’s possible only if we all endavour in a mindset and perception shift first.