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Nebraska Academy of Sciences

We believe science is essential for all Nebraskans 

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Robert S. Kubicek Memorial Scholarship Awardee 

Zachary Nelson

Papillion, NE 

The concept of business piqued my interest at a young age. My parents founded their own home-based apparel company during the peak of my childhood. This period enabled me to observe and learn how a business operates. After school, I would often hear the whir of rhinestone machines securing jewels to clothing, witness employees and family members working tirelessly in quality control, and smell the stench of adhesive escaping the workspace. While other children were spending their free time playing video games, I had the opportunity to observe entrepreneurship. This chapter of my life granted me a firsthand look into the failures and triumphs of a business, displaying the benefits of hard work. This experience became a foundation for my lifelong fascination with the subject, allowing me to foster this passion. However, at the time, I did not fully comprehend the immense influence the field of business has over its surroundings. For every action a company takes, there is a reaction that directly impacts society. My parents had to thoroughly consider each decision and evaluate its economic, environmental, and social effects. Today, I understand organizations must display a deliberate sense of responsibility when carrying out their operations.

The business community continually influences ecosystems and natural resources through its operations. In activities such as product manufacturing and distribution, unintentional environmental conflicts arise. Typically, companies experience dilemmas where they have to choose between financial benefits for their business and environmentally friendly benefits for society. Companies must take accountability for their actions and possess the responsibility to make ethically sound choices. For example, consider a company in the food and beverage industry that is considering switching from materials such as single-use plastics and investing in environmentally sustainable resources for packaging. While this action could result in increased societal support and praise, it would most likely reduce immediate profits due to the purchase of more expensive products. Here, the business would have to understand its critical impact on habitats and responsibly ensure that its affairs do not harm or negatively impact the health and well-being of its community. If companies, especially those in large industries, are not mindful of the impacts of their behavior, they could contribute to mass environmental degradation. In addition to the materials utilized, other commerce decisions can precipitate considerable ramifications. Expanding industrialized land is essential for traffic and profit growth, but it must take place efficiently and consciously to avoid loss of biodiversity, destruction of habitats, and overall contributions to climate change. If companies develop or expand on new plots of land, they should strive to minimize environmental stress by evaluating their land options and replenishing those resources lost to industrialization. Many industries also make substantial impacts on the environment by contributing to litter quantity and releasing pollutants into the atmosphere. Finally, water is a resource that many industries rely on for cooling, cleanliness, electricity, and more. Increasing water usage can threaten local supplies and lead to even higher concentrations of pollutants. Businesses are responsible for using water effectively to maintain supplies and protect overall human health. All of these factors can devastate habitats and resources if not carefully addressed.

The business community can progress toward increased sustainability by initiating change and maintaining sight of its effects on the outside world. Organizations can reduce their carbon footprint by considering renewable energy sources, reducing waste, reusing and recycling materials, and giving back through financial contributions or eco-friendly initiatives. Reducing carbon emissions in the atmosphere is essential to preserve natural resources and ensure environmental stability for years to come. Organizations should also be responsible for educating employees on eliminating environmental risks in company operations. Many wasteful practices from large companies do not stem from any carelessness of employees but from poor communication and benightedness regarding industrial implementation. Businesses should apply sustainability regulations within their organizations, such as simple daily water usage standards or resource replenishment procedures. If similar reforms occur on a widespread scale, then significant benefits will become apparent. It all comes down to the willingness and responsibility of companies to recognize their impact and take strides to update their behavior for the betterment of their communities, even if it means making some financial sacrifices.

The business field is a delicate balance between economics, civilization, and nature. Organizations must prioritize what they believe is most important, not solely for their success, but for all parties involved. Businesses indeed focus on utilizing strategies that maximize profits and build their customer relations status. However, they must consider the consequences prompted by seemingly beneficial business strategies. Is the company doing everything in its power to minimize its footprint in the long run? Is the economic intake enough to make operations and investments pay off? Is the company inclusive and appealing to demographics across the board? Although it seems like an extreme example, the 2012 film The Lorax serves as a modern-day warning of the power that commerce possesses. In the movie, a young inventor’s desperate attempts at widespread production and high profits compel him to jeopardize natural habitats by irresponsibly producing garments. These insensitive measures result in deforestation and elevated pollution, which ultimately devastate ecosystems and societal norms. As Dr. Seuss once stated, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." It is imperative that the business community embodies this message and respects its ethical duty to preserve the environment.

Zachary will be attending the Heider College of Business at Creighton University starting Fall of 2023.

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