While discussing the effects of strip mining and related unsustainable agricultural practices as part of our family’s syllabus, we came across the name of Georgius Agricola. It is very likely that he cared not only for the environment, but for the well-being of mine workers as well. Not something you would have thought a 16th Century business person would have done! Here is an extract, and I strongly recommend that you read the rest for yourself! Responsible business can only be prosecuted by responsible business leaders. Since you are a responsible business person, do delve into this a bit more.
“And when the woods and groves are felled, then are exterminated the beasts and birds, very many of which furnish a pleasant and agreeable food for man. Further, when the ores are washed, the water which has been used poisons the brooks and streams, and either destroys the fish or drives them away. Therefore the inhabitants of these regions … find great difficulty in procuring the necessities of life … (De Re Metallica, Book I).”
This was written before 1555, the year of his death, and published after he died. Four hundred years later, we still face the same issues! Are we really progressing as humans? What about your business? Are you all out to exploit and give lip service to “corporate responsibility” or do you create genuine and sustainable wealth wherever your business takes you? What will you choose? Will you be a responsible business? Will you deliberately choose lower profit margins if that is what it takes to make your business sustainable?
I recently visited a fish farm in Malaysia. It produced tilapia, marble goby and udang galah, a freshwater prawn with two very long pincer arms. The number of fish or prawns in each pond was kept at a sustainable level. No antibiotics were needed, and waste was filtered off and used as fertilizer and to raise earthworms. The earthworms were also used as fish food. There were plans for insects to be harvested and used as fish food as well. These practices resulted in fish and prawns which cost more to raise and therefore yielded lower profits. More businesses need to become like this. Choose the responsible way!