Magazine article Information Today

Commodity and Community

Magazine article Information Today

Commodity and Community

Article excerpt

There is a balance--or should be--between what we consume and what we sustain in all aspects of our daily lives. But that is often not the case. The articles I am highlighting from the July/August issues of The Information Advisor's Guide to Internet Research and Online Searcher offer interesting perspectives on attaining this balance.

It Can Be Easy Being Green

In a follow-up to a 2006 article on environmentally friendly business practices, the Info Advisor's Guide staff, with help from Mary L. Walsh, produced "The Sustainable Business 2015." It presents a succinct definition of sustainability that helps to explain its goal within a business environment: "protecting natural resources, supporting human welfare, and creating economic development by which communities can become--and remain--healthy, safe, and vital places to live and do business."

The key to effectively meeting this goal is to maintain a balance among what is often referred to as the "circles"--or the "three spheres"--of sustainability. The first sphere is economic (ensuring "the equitable and efficient use of resources [to keep] economic growth [at a] healthy balance with the ecosystem ..."). The environmental sphere works to protect the natural world and offers ways to reduce the consumption of natural resources. It encompasses measures such as recycling, protecting coastal and inland waters and wetlands, and reducing the use of chemicals and nonrenewable resources. The social sphere looks at sustainability from the standpoint of democratic ideals such as ensuring opportunity and justice for everyone by reducing social inequality and poverty.

A sustainable business integrates and benefits from five additional concepts. Social equity takes into account the demographics of your business and how accessible your services are to your potential customers. Sustainable health considers the long-term health needs of your employees as well as how your business is impacting the health of the natural environment. Safety practices help you keep an eye on the vulnerability of your business to natural and man-made hazards and establish proactive and adaptive programs. A resilient business has the capacity to withstand a natural or man-made crisis or adversity. Cost savings can be realized through business practices that consider long-term risks and needs, e.g., buildings constructed to withstand the increasing frequency of severe weather.

The article also provides an extensive list of resources, including organizations, databases, and journals that can help companies work toward sustainable business methods.

Info Pro(ducts)

Barbara W. Burton asks this intriguing question at the outset of her Online Searcher article, "Managing Information as a Consumer Product": "What might we learn by considering information as if it were a product to be consumed much as we consume other products every day?" As she sees it, defining information as a "thing" lets us compare its value in the same way we compare clothes, food, and electronics. …

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