Social Enterprise – Part 4

Presented by: Center for Balanced Development

 

Focus: Resources & Waste Management

 

Conceptual Framework:

 

History and Background

The earth and its natural resources are the source of human life and livelihood. By utilizing and managing our resources we have created technologies and industries that have become progressively more complex. Looking at the history of development, we have evolved from cave-dwellers to high-rise buildings, from animal transportation to cars and airplanes, from smoke-signals to telephones and E-mails.Truly, the scope of our technological advancement and the use of our resources has been profound.     

 

Present Status & Needs

A quick survey of how we are using our resources and the speed with which we are depleting many of our non-renewable resources is really frightening and raises endless questions in terms of sustainability and the future of our limited natural resources. Aside from the environmental concerns that we are facing today, our health and vitality as human species is in danger. Waste and pollution surrounds us on land, air and water. Global warming and the climate change is causing an ever-increasing and severe storms, floods, draught, wild fires and a host of other natural disasters as the scale of man-made pollution keep increasing. Against this backdrop we are also facing an ever-increasing world population with higher demands for natural resources and better quality of life. There is a great need for a global system of managing our natural resources, pollution and waste management.    

 

Future Outlook

There is an ever-increasing awareness of our fragile and depleting natural resources. Many nations, organizations and entities have been taking measures to address the use of resources, creating a healthy environment and waste management. From renewable energy to green products and recycling programs, there is a great movement to address the critical nature of resources and the tremendous amount of waste that is being created globally every day. However, extensive global coordination efforts are needed to address the massive scale of the usage of resources and waste production.           

 

 

Application for Social Enterprise Focused on Resources & Waste Management:

 

Minerals

Whether we are exploring the application of social enterprise utilizing rocks, dirt and clay to build homes or tools or using metals for building tools and crafts or, there are endless number of ways of using our natural resources. The history of civilization shows a progression of technology leading to modern high tech industries and sophisticated machinery and tools being used today for millions of applications in energy, transportation, telecommunications, information, media…etc. However, as it’s been mentioned here before, considering a social enterprise requires a careful study of the project in terms of it social, economic and ecological impact and in most cases the enterprise could be a local initiative using local resources and a moderate investment of time and materials to get started.   

 

Plants & Vegetation

Obviously, growing vegetables, plants and fruit for food on a publicly available land or in collaboration with a private home or hand owner, as also mentioned in part 2, is gaining popularity. Urban farming in the US is on the increase and there are numerous non-profits that offer assistance in this regard.

However, another major social enterprise that is popular worldwide, is to use plants or plant waste to make baskets, tools and crafts using designs that is inspired by the local culture. This kind of social enterprise acts as a means of coveying social and cultural meaning as well as being a source economic activity that is ecologically sound.

Also in this line of enterprise, planting trees and creating green space for private and public use is a much needed enterprise that contributes to the ecological balance and can receive support from environmental groups, foundations and government incentives.

 

Animals

Although animals are a major part of our global food chain and human diet, we are seeing a trend towards reducing meat and fish consumption as more people become aware of healthy eating habits and greater use of plant-based food become popular. A much needed social enterprise is possibly providing nutritional and health consulting for children and adults as a great means of prevention and saving on costly medical treatment that otherwise might be needed. A very effective application of this kind of enterprise would be at the neighborhood level and working with families on a one-on-one basis. 

The other area that offers rewards is to make efforts in saving extinct animal species that various non-profit organizations are vigorously pursuing and there is a great need for support. 

 

Waste Recycling

A simple-to-start social enterprise with great social, economic and ecological benefit is waste recycling at homes and businesses before it goes into the trash bin in a mixed format. An individual or a small group of entrepreneurs can provide bags to residences or businesses to separate plastic, paper, metal and glass and even food waste and through regular pick-up service recycle the already sorted waste at the local recycling center for cash. We see this happening in public places and parks where individuals collect plastic bottles or cans for recycling.   

 

Composting

Whether using leaves and dead plants or vegetable peels and fruit waste, there are great possibilities for composting and using it as fertilizer to improve the soil and increasing harvest yield. This area of social enterprise is very promising and lends itself really well to organic farming.  

 

Electronic Gadget & Batteries Recycling

There is a tremendous amount of electronic gadgets that needs to be recycled. This is a great social enterprise that is labor-intensive in terms of taking the gadgets apart and recycling the various elements in a typical gadget which could be plastic, metals and glass. Recycling batteries is another worthy social enterprise that is in need of help. Millions of small and large batteries need to be discarded which can be leak into water stream if not discarded properly.

 

Auto & Tire Recycling

Recycling auto is already a big industry but there are lots of vehicles that are sitting in some backyard and if someone can offer to take it apart and sell the parts, it can be a service and a great social enterprise. However, recycling tires is a major problem and there are simple technologies in terms of cutting the tires and using it in floor-mats or as pavement in playgrounds, but there could be lots of new innovations to use the huge supply of old tires that needs to be recycled and it keeps increasing as the number of cars around the world reaches 1 billion.  

 

Air Pollution

Most of our major cities suffer from poor air quality and pollution caused by vehicles and industrial production. Often, residents become accustomed to the pollution and don’t realize the long-term effects on their health. A social enterprise focused on bringing awareness in terms air pollution and air quality as well as providing tools to measure air quality, home air purifiers, paper masks and other tools can be very effective.

 

Water Pollution & Sewage

In the segment on water, we looked at some of the applications for a social enterprise involving water pollution and decontamination. Here let’s look at sewage treatment and how a social enterprise can help to reduce the amount of sewage that is created by innovating ways of recycling sewage and inventions. There is a great need for inventors and creative minds that can design methods and tools that can reuse the water that is used for household use or rain water to be reused for vegetation with minor treatment or filters made of natural elements.

 

Industrial Waste

Although there are lots of enterprises that address industrial waste, however, due to the scope of industrial waste and the need for innovations and inventions to address industrial waste, there is a great need for a new generation of social entrepreneurs who are dedicated to addressing industrial waste at all stages of the waste creation.

 

 

Implications of a Social Enterprise Focused on Resources & Waste Management:

 

Social

There is a dire need for a new understanding that our natural resources belongs to the entire global community and that socially we are responsible in how we use our resources and how it effects the global community as our global interdependence is a fact of our present reality. Likewise, today, we are finding that pollution is a global issue that is not confined to the boundaries of a nation or region. How we use our resources and how we treat our waste has global and long-term implications that requires a deeper understanding of our shared heritage that has been handed down through generations and past civilizations.

 

Economic

It’s clear that our prosperity and global economic issues stem from our utilization of global resources. Lack of proper utilization of resources can lead to economic difficulties and proper use of our resources in a global consorted effort will lead to prosperity and better life for the portion of the population that is within the region of coverage. At this point in time and until a global initiative started to address our use of global resources, we are going to experience hardship and poverty in areas that do not have access to resources needed to manage their economies. Social enterprise can play a critical role in this regard.    

    

Ecological

There is great deal to be achieved in terms of the usage of our natural resources with the ecological balance in mind. Currently, we are in a state of crisis in terms of depletion of natural resources, pollution and waste that is increasingly on the rise. Much needs to be done to protect our precious resources and reduce the burden of acutely depleted resources and highly polluted environment for the future generations. Social enterprise can be a step in the right direction.  

 

In conclusion, the advancement of technology and use of our natural resources is fast expanding. The speed of change in some parts of the world is at an all-time high while in other parts life has not changed much in the past few hundred years. The effects of the concentrated and massive utilization of our resources for the benefit of a portion of the world population is creating enormous amounts of waste and pollution that is affecting the entire planet. Global warming, climate change, frequent storms and wild fires that can be directly attributed to pollution are some of the effects while the social disparity, lack of resources, economic hardships, wars and conflicts can be traced back to our methods and ways on how we use our resources. A social enterprise at the grassroots can be a great start towards a more stable planet and a more peaceful society.    

 

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