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Corporations and Environmental Sustainability

The carbon footprint left by corporations is increasing at an alarming rate.

Source: Max Pixel

Corporations, whether we like it or not, are the backbone of our economy. Every year, corporations cause $2.2 trillion worth of environmental damage. Most of the damage is because of greenhouse gasses, freshwater pollution, and air pollution. Corporate interests overall harm the environment.

Corporations realize this, but since adopting environmentally friendly policies costs money, they aren’t interested. Corporations only care about maximizing their profits. Serving for only their best interests, they don’t care who and how anyone is detrimentally affected.

According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report in May 2002, “there was a growing gap between the efforts to reduce the impact of business and industry on nature and the worsening state of the planet.”

Despite this, some corporations are starting to develop pro-environment measures. Recently, Starbucks has announced a plan to ban plastic straws in all of their stores by 2020. Many agree that this a step in the right direction.

While Starbucks is being openly praised about this initiative, just last week, they signed a $7.15 billion licensing deal with Nestle. The irony behind this is that Nestle’s Peter Brabeck-Letmathe stated that water as a human right is “extreme”.

He instead believes that water should instead be given a market value and privatized. Brabeck-Lethmathe politicking that water is a “need” rather than a “right” is most jarring considering the increasing water shortage around the world. Around 40% are affected by the scarcity of water.

So why is a “pro-environment” corporation such as Starbucks teaming up with Nestle, which is proud of their corporate violence towards people and nature? Simply because Starbucks does not really care. They were never pro-environment in the first place.

Their goal is to instead profit off sustainability by giving the illusion that they are a sustainable company. They know people will more likely go to Starbucks to get their morning cup of coffee if they believe Starbucks is trying to help the environment.

Starbucks isn’t the only company that has shown itself to be hypocritical for sustainability.

Amazon’s CEO claimed in 2016 in a letter to shareholders that “we [Amazon] can put our inventive culture to work on moving the needle on sustainability and social issues.” Yet, Amazon’s lack of transparency on their carbon footprint should always make someone skeptical.

Amazon still does not clarify their carbon-emissions goal. Considering Amazon is now worth $1 trillion, they have the money to reduce their carbon footprint.

They could easily invest in electric or zero-emission vehicles and find more sustainable ways for shipping and packaging. Yet, like many corporations, they don’t.

Corporations only care about maximizing profits and these incentives are pushing businesses in the wrong direction. They develop an egoist principle about how the world should work. Fulfilling personal self-interests are the foundation corporations live on.

That is raw capitalism at its finest. Corporations won’t change unless consumers force them too. With the impeding Armageddon that is climate change, we should do everything we can to make the change.

By: Trevor Falsey




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