In line with the urgent calls for environmental protection, the implementation of sustainable and green methods in corporations, small businesses and private homes has greatly increased over the past few years. By implementing environmentally beneficial methods such as sustainable and energy efficient operational techniques, several companies have already started making positive changes.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a role in striving for sustainability through corporations’ operations and business management models. CSR helps mediate companies’ social, environmental and economic concerns with methods that can improve a company’s ethics and relationship with the public while enhancing capital by implementing better practices and increasing the overall satisfaction of employers and customers. Examples of key CSR issues include environmental protection, eco-efficiency, community relations, working conditions and good governance.
Honeywell, a global leader in energy efficiency and green technology, is an example of a franchise whose presence in China has had a positive green impact through its operational methods. Honeywell has developed methods to obtain transportation fuels and power from renewable sources such as inedible plants, waste oils and algae, reducing the need to burn coal, which is a leading source of air pollution. The company stated their views in a November 2014 press release in response to President Obama and Xi’s APEC summit, in which historic agreements on climate control were discussed. “Technologies exist today that will help companies and government make tremendous strides immediately.” Honeywell is also currently undertaking a joint environmental protection project with Chongqing Chemical Industry Park (CCIP). The company is helping with the project by using its online monitoring systems to oversee CCIP’s pollution in an effort to help the park meet pollution control standards.
Another leader in implementing CSR methods through its operations is Eaton, a power management company that provides energy-saving and efficient products and solutions to its clients. An advocate for sustainability, Eaton is taking decisive action against air pollution in China. The products Eaton sells, including hybrid electric and hydraulic power trains, electrical power control systems and high-pressure hydraulic aircraft systems, encourage the conservation of resources, efficient use of power and emissions reduction. Additionally, they combat pollution and help reduce CO2 emissions by achieving zero-waste-to-landfill through recycling. These are all methods and examples of how companies seem to be shifting toward more sustainable ways of operating and producing goods.
In China, the dangers of air pollution were brought to the forefront of the national discussion with last month’s release of Chai Jing’s documentary, “Under the Dome.” Former TV reporter Chai Jing’s story serves as an example of the harmful effects that pollution can have on people and the environment. Chai spent a year investigating and financing her 103-minute documentary on the issue of smog in China. The piece was widely available on Chinese social media for a week before authorities removed it from Chinese video sites. Chai’s film, which explores the daunting social and health risks that come with persistent exposure to air pollution, was viewed over 100 million times before it was blocked. In a Ted-Talk formatted lecture, Jing describes her own experiences and presents research findings to help explain the causes of pollution and the solutions that other countries have implemented.
In 2013, Chai’s first child was prematurely diagnosed with a tumor; a catalyzing event that she claims led to her subsequent research. Motivated by the thought of protecting her child and uncovering the source of the girl’s early health problems, Chai produced a film that has sparked public debate and informed many of the risks they may be facing due to high pollution levels. Fearing for her daughter’s health, Chai says that she keeps her inside their insolated and purified house unless pollution levels are low.
Chai’s experience with her daughter’s health problems led her to use her film-making skills to reveal the way factories throughout China have been ignoring and breaking the countless existing rules and regulations on environmental protection and proper working conditions with impunity.
Chai’s film has reminded us all of the importance of making an effort to reduce harmful and avoidable habits that contribute to air pollution.
This March, Premier Li Keqiang made promising statements after Chai’s documentary was blocked in China. “The Chinese government is determined to tackle smog and pollution,” he said. The fact that Air Quality Index (AQI) levels have exceeded the standards recommended by the World Health Organization countless times in the past three years, combined with the release of Chai’s documentary, will probably encourage more companies to make green changes in their operations and implement CSR methods. While creating and enforcing stricter standards for improving air quality is costly and sometimes even tedious, such actions are certainly not costlier than the potential loss of more lives due to air pollution. Thanks to Chai’s revolutionary documentary and the increase in sustainable actions taken by companies, the public will slowly become more informed and aware of the dangers they face, as well as the possible solutions.