Big businesses and the public in general are dependent on the natural environment in satisfying the need for both renewable and non-renewable natural resources. This necessity is addressed by extracting necessary resources and using them for manufacturing all necessary tools and machines as well as feeding society. However, there is a challenge of cleaning up the environment and keeping it clean, as the operation of big businesses and life of the public is inseparable from deteriorating the nature. Therefore, it is critical to determine the scope of responsibilities of both businesses and society as a whole in preserving the natural environment and seek ways to turn cleaning it up into a positive experience for both.
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To begin with, it is essential to point to the fact that there is a constant conflict between society and big businesses as well as both of them and the natural environment. As mentioned above, both big businesses and public in general depend upon the environment in satisfying the need for natural resources. They can be divided into renewable resources such as timber and fish and non-renewable ones such as metals and oil (Diamond, 2011). Still, regardless of the nature of resources, they are extracted by both societies and big businesses. However, there is a lasting conflict between the two, as what is economically beneficial for big businesses, is harmful to the public in general. On a larger scale, what benefits both public and businesses, in most cases, deteriorates the natural environment (Diamond, 2011). This problem is connected to the fact that both businesses and society fail to recognize that they are responsible for preserving the natural environment and keeping it clean.
Regardless of the shared responsibility to preserve the natural environment and keep it clean, the scope of duties of big businesses and the public is different. This difference derives from the difference in the volume of extracted and consumed natural resources and their influence on the environment. That said, big businesses are responsible for avoiding breaches of fiduciary responsibility. It means that initially, the public should be aware that big businesses are profit-making machines, i.e. they focus on maximizing profits regardless of their influence on the natural environment (Diamond, 2011). Moreover, they are responsible for avoiding expensive natural disasters. In this way, senior management of big businesses is interested in minimizing costs and guaranteeing safety of their employees, as well as satisfying interests of their major stakeholders, instead of protecting the environment. Nevertheless, it means that big companies make significant effort to avoid the most critical deteriorations of the environment.
Except for the responsibility to avoid industry-induced natural disasters and liability to follow national legislation, big businesses have other resources to foster cleaning up the environment. In this case, it is essential to note that some of the most influential companies are not involved in extracting natural resources. Instead, they cooperate with other companies, which supply them with necessary provisions. From this perspective, non-extracting manufacturers have enough power to force suppliers to clean up the environment and introduce environmentally friendly technologies. Because other companies are as well profit-focused, they are more likely to react to the pressure induced by their customers instead of that from the government. In this way, big businesses are responsible for creating the platform for preserving the natural environment and guaranteeing that it is clean as well as offered products are safe.
On the other hand, the scope of public’s responsibility might be even broader than that of big businesses. It can be explained by the fact that the public as a whole can be viewed from two perspectives – the government and people. In case of viewing the public as the government, its responsibility for cleaning up the environment and keeping it clean is ultimate, as it is the government that determines the rules of the economic game. In this way, if the government does not point to responsibility for deteriorating the environment in legal acts, blaming big businesses for not cleaning it up the environment is meaningless, as they do not violate any regulations. At the same time, if companies are legally liable of keeping the environment clean and know that violating these provisions would lead to economic losses, they would invest in environmentally friendly technologies, i.e. those, which help to minimize negative influence on the environment, decrease emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as well as reduce the amount of natural resources for manufacturing (Gabriel, 2012).
At the same time, it is critical to point to individual and corporate responsibility in treating big businesses. From this perspective, both people and small businesses choose a manufacturer of products they buy. It means that if they are aware that a big business violated environmental regulation but still choose its products, they support the violator and provide it with further opportunities for deteriorating the environment. On the other hand, if small companies, as well as individual consumers, ignore products manufactured by non-sustainable firms, they would force these companies to review their environmental policies and mitigate their negative influence on nature (Diamond, 2011). However, in some cases, only companies have enough power to influence other big businesses, e.g. those involved in transportation, packaging, etc. Nevertheless, consumers have the potential of controlling those firms, which specialize in commodities and food products.
Moreover, individual consumers and small companies have the power of influencing the government and making it review regulations, thus requiring implementation of positive environmental practices as well as keeping environmental track record of big businesses (Diamond, 2011). In this way, in case of failing to affect environmental policies of big businesses by giving preference to eco-friendly products, it is the responsibility of citizens and small companies to press their governments, thus enforcing green laws and the introduction of corresponding control measures aimed at guaranteeing that new rules and regulations are strictly followed by big companies.
Bearing in mind what has been mentioned above, it is evident that keeping the environment clean is a matter of continuous conflicts. Nevertheless, there are some ways to make the problem easier to address and a positive experience for both the public in general and big businesses. However, it requires the creation of a universal and comprehensive approach to the identification of this challenge and institutional framework for promoting the significance of solving the issue (Hawrysz & Foltys, 2015). In order to make this initiative productive, it is essential to guarantee that it centers on several arguments. First and foremost, it is critical to find the balance between the environment and economy. In this view, keeping the environment clean can be viewed as economically beneficial in both short and long runs, as avoiding waste is always better than investing in eliminating it. It means that even though the implementation of eco-friendly technologies requires vast investment, this step induces a positive environmental change, which would benefit both the public and big businesses (Diamond, 2011).
Moreover, it is imperative to realize that regardless of the potential benefits of environmentally friendly technologies, introducing them is always more expensive that developing a comprehensive social and corporate policies, which aim at minimizing negative influence on the environment. The same is true about cleaning up the environment compared to keeping it clean. From this perspective, it is environmentally better and economically beneficial to prevent oil spills that deal with its consequences (Diamond, 2011). More than that, it is imperative to realize that forecasting effects of the newest technologies is complicated. At this time, it is evident that their influence on the environment is less detrimental than that of traditional technologies, which omit vast volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during the process of combustion. However, eventually it might turn out that their influence is as well negative (Diamond, 2011).
In conclusion, it is essential to state that keeping the environment clean is the individual responsibility. It is true about both members of society and companies. In this way, big businesses can be viewed as individuals as well because they determine the rules of play and choose whether they want to follow governmental policies or not. Therefore, recognizing individual responsibility in keeping the environment clean should become the foundation of the initiative for turning it into a positive experience for both the public in general and big businesses.
Diamond, J. (2011). Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed. New York, NY: Penguin Books.
Gabriel, S. J. (2012). Corporate responsibility towards environmental protection: A study. Anvesha, 5(1), 28-33.
Hawrysz, L., & Foltys, J. (2015). Environmental aspects of social responsibility of public sector organizations. Sustainability, 8(1), 19-28.