5 Environmental and Safety Professionals’ Contributions to Society
When you consider all the natural and man-made activities that transpire on a daily basis throughout the world, you begin to understand just how busy of a place our so-called Starship Earth is. Unfortunately, a lot of what happens on our planet ultimately isn’t good for it or for us, and that includes both human actions and natural disasters. From oil spills and deforestation to volcanic eruptions and forest fires, the earth finds itself constantly facing stresses and strains. However, all is not doom and gloom. Environmental professional contributions have gone and continue to go a long way toward healing the earth.
In this post, we will describe five environmental responsibility examples and discuss ways in which credentialed experts are making the world a better place.
Monitoring and Enforcing Health and Hygiene Legislation
One axiom that spans time and space is that actions invariably have consequences. That’s true for even the most well-intentioned organizations that produce dangerous emissions or deplete natural resources. Fortunately, many businesses have embraced corporate environmental responsibility, taking concrete steps to limit their impact on the planet. For example, IT conglomerate Fujitsu has stated, “All employees of the Fujitsu Group recognize the importance of the global environment and, to help ensure its sustainability, contribute to local society through activities in three key areas: regional contributions, nature conservation, and environmental education.”
Not every corporation or local government shows such attentiveness to environmental issues, though. In cases where negligence or malice hurt the environment and/or people, environmental professionals help to enforce environmental responsibility in business and municipalities. Understand that not every environmental professional will need to serve legal notices or provide evidence in court. Still, environmental health officers and similar positions may very well have to provide expert testimony in cases. Additionally, environmental and safety professionals can halt damage before it even starts by understanding the regulatory and legal environment; confirming that organizations where they are employed or that fall under their oversight comply with all applicable rules; and ensuring that logistics and supply chain comply with sustainability directives.
Investigating Environment-Related Incidents
Environmental management, enforcement, and education all seek to prevent damage to the planet, sometimes an environmental professional must directly deal with hazardous incidents. The role of the professional will undoubtedly vary depending on the specific job position, certification, and specific violation. For instance, forest and conservation technicians may attempt to remediate noise pollution, which affects more than just people. “Noise pollution also impacts the health and well-being of wildlife,” National Geographic notes. “Animals use sound for a variety of reasons, including to navigate, find food, attract mates, and avoid predators. Noise pollution makes it difficult for them to accomplish these tasks, which affects their ability survive.” Similarly, a food scientist may investigate a food poisoning incident, pest infestation, or bacterial outbreak to see if it results from a production or packaging defect.
In addition to dealing with toxic contamination sites, pollution from illegal emissions, or the accidental spillage of caustic chemicals, environmental professionals pen technical reports to describe what transpired in pollution-wracked areas and record any steps taken to remedy related issues.
Implementing Environmental Policies and Practices
Many private companies seek to address their environmental impact prior to a polluting event, attempting to implement sensible sustainability guidelines as part of their corporate individual environmental responsibility. Such a task is much more challenging than, say, teaching environmental responsibility for students. It requires careful implementation of environment manager roles and responsibilities or some such similar professional such as a sustainability analyst or sustainability director. How do environmental professionals positively contribute to society in such a role? They do the following:
- Help craft an environmentally friendly corporate culture by communicating the value of corporate social responsibility
- Create strategies that simultaneously meet business revenue targets while implementing best sustainability practices
- Develop an environmental management system by implementing internationally recognized environmental standards
- Perform periodic audits to ensure that departments abide by the constraints of the environmental management system
- Create performance-monitoring tools and manage environmental strategy budgets
- Compile and analyze all applicable data related to sustainability efforts
- Communicate said data to employees, management, stakeholders, and (if necessary) appropriate regulatory bodies
Producing Educational or Information Resources
Sustainable practices do more than just satisfy lawmakers and benefit planet Earth. They can also endear consumers to companies. Barron’s reported that a poll which reached “19,000 customers from 28 countries” found that “North American respondents, which numbered 3,500, increasingly prefer sustainable brands. 69% of environmentally-conscious buyers willingly pay a premium for recycled products, and more than half of these buyers are ready to change their shopping habits to reduce negative impact on the environment.” For that to happen, though, consumers need to know about the steps taken by environmentally conscious businesses.
This is where credentialed environmental professionals can shine. Because they have often developed and implemented the requisite sustainability initiatives and programs used by a specific company, they become ideal candidates for communicating the goals and achievements of these measures to the wider world. This may involve PR efforts, media interviews, or simply publishing educational materials about environmentally friendly initiatives.
But communication doesn’t stop with consumers or the wider world. Environmental professionals must continue to educate and inform staff at every level of the organization. They can develop specific training protocols and hold mandatory seminars for entry-level workers and executive staff alike.
Acting as a Champion or Cheerleader for Environmental Issues
A thinker as ancient as Aristotle understood that the minds of people aren’t simply pots into which you can pour information. According to him, convincing others required appeals to personal character and emotion, as well as logic. One of the best ways that environmental professionals can contribute to society and the good of the planet is by cheerfully championing their environmental goals. Personal commitment and enthusiasm go a long way toward convincing the most curmudgeonly of the importance of sustainability. Steve Brunkhorst has said, “Your enthusiasm will inspire others to move forward with actions that bring rewarding achievements.” Additionally, Asheen Phansey wrote in Environment & Energy Leader that “environmental sustainability can relate to any educational background or functional group in a company.”
Environmental professionals don’t just communicate within their own organization. They also serve as a liaison to other companies or groups, creating and sustaining mutually beneficial coalitions. Sometimes they may find themselves functioning as a go-between for their company with applicable regulatory bodies. Whatever the context, playing the role of an environmental champion helps improve sustainability measures, benefits the planet, and often helps bolster companies’ bottom lines.
Since 1987, the National Registry of Environmental Professionals® has sought to provide environmental professionals with certification programs that demonstrate their professional prowess. We establish the guidelines and set the standard for environmental and safety certification on an international scale. NREPSM has been recognized by both the United States Department of Energy and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. We are the largest not-for-profit environmental accrediting organization and have a global network of more than 15,000 members. Consider getting certified today!