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Organisations, environmental management and innovation
Organisations, environmental management and innovation

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2.1 Creating environmental issues

In this course, we assume that you have some familiarity with a range of environmental issues, concerns and problems that are now part of contemporary life. Whether losses of and threats to species, habitats, landscapes or traditional livelihoods, many of these issues are often associated with or directly linked to the activities of organisations.

Activity 19 Organisations creating environmental issues

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Using your spray diagram from Activity 18, note some possible ways in which the organisation may be involved in contributing to or creating environmental issues.

Provide your answer...

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As hinted at in the description of the spray diagram, the hairdressers is creating or contributing to environmental issues through energy use, resource use and generation of waste. Some of these are created ‘every day’, i.e. energy and water and some forms of waste. Some are likely to be more intermittent, such as replacing fixtures and fittings or appliances which may happen once every three years or so. The organisation may also be creating issues in terms of the choices it makes – does it buy energy-efficient appliances, for example?

The range of environmental issues in your answer is likely to be as diverse as the organisations themselves and will also be shaped by your own interests in the environment. Some links between an organisation and an environmental issue, such as a chemical spill into a river from a factory, will be relatively straightforward. In others, there will be more uncertainty. Does the (seemingly constant) use of the kettle for making tea at the local community centre contribute to climate change? Debates about climate change are a good example of controversy and uncertainty concerning the role of organisations in contributing to environmental issues.

You will explore more about the role of organisations in ‘creating’ environmental management issues later on. For the moment, we briefly explore the other dimension: how organisations are affected by environmental issues.