• Natasha Ikhsan

The story of the so-called 'environmental business advantages'

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

Hello! This is Natasha writing. You may not have heard of me before as it’s been barely one month since I joined su-re.co’s Think team as a research assistant intern. But, hopefully, with this first blog post, you can get to know me a little better :)

I would like to share a story about what has led me to do what I do now and particularly what made me decide to apply for an internship program at su-re.co.

It all started during my undergraduate study in chemical engineering when environmental sustainability issues were starting to emerge and attract much attention worldwide. In my department at that time, people's reactions started to dichotomize into pro-development and pro-environment.

I clearly remember what one of the professors said during a big lecture. He said that strict environmental regulations would only oppress industries and negatively impact a country's development especially emerging countries such as Indonesia. He said that all developed countries today must have been through the so-called ‘environmentally destructive phase’ when they were exploiting natural resources and were not aware of the environmental impacts they created or not having environmental protection as their priority. And ‘only’ by doing so they were able to build their wealth.

For instance, when Japan was still catching up with the West, they put economic growth before environmental sustainability. As a result, they faced many serious social, environmental and health problems including the infamous Minamata Disease and Ashio Copper Mine Pollution. It really seemed like we can never have it both ways.

Eventually, I found a Ted Talk video by Karina Funk. I learned from her talk that we can actually have it both ways. We do not have to always choose between profit versus sustainability. Instead, we can gain better economic performances by complying with environmental standards, only when we already find those ‘money-making environmental strategies’ also called Environmental Business Advantages (EBAs). For instance, if a company uses water more efficiently, not only can it produce less waste water (environmental benefit) but it can also lower its overall utility cost (economic benefit).

I found it true myself when recalling a community development project I was involved in during my Bachelor’s study. We tried to tackle environmental issues caused by irresponsible cattle dung handlings in Ciporeat village where the majority of the locals work as dairy cattle farmers. We facilitated the installations of biogas reactors to convert cattle dung into biogas and bio-slurry (organic fertilizer). This biogas project provides not only environmental and health benefits for the local people, but also economic benefits from the reduced expense for LPG or firewoods. I am finally convinced that gaining both economic and environmental (even also social) benefits is truly possible.

Dairy cattle farming in Desa Ciporeat

Ever since, I have become motivated to learn more about environment, development, and sustainability. I would like to help find EBAs for a community, a village, a city, and even for my country Indonesia. That pushed me to pursue a study in international development with emphasis on environment and society. Later, I discovered su-re.co while researching domestic biogas programs in Indonesia. Reading the background story of su-re.co by the founder Takeshi Takama (Tak) really moved me. su-re.co has been involved in supporting farmers around Bali and Nusa Tenggara to thrive and grow sustainably through its innovative biogas program, climate education (Climate Field School), and green coffee and cocoa business. In later blog posts, I and other gift makers will talk more about how su-re.co is successfully applying EBAs in its green business.

I have been so honored to be part of su-re.co since here I get to witness and even contribute in community development efforts that embody sustainability and environmentalism.

su-re.co shows me once again that profit creation can go hand in hand with environmental sustainability.

Please do check out su-re.co’s shop to see more details of various su-re.co’s products.

Thanks for reading!

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