Environmental impact is the alteration of the environment as a direct or indirect consequence of a given activity. All human activities have an impact on the ecosystem. It is therefore essential to measure, minimise and compensate for their impact on the balance of the environment.

Types of environmental impacts:

There are up to seven different types of environmental impacts:

  • Positive or negative
  • Reversible or irreversible
  • Direct or indirect
  • Cumulative or synergistic
  • Actual or potential
  • Temporary or permanent
  • Local or diffuse

Negative environmental impacts are directly related to human activities and how natural resources are exploited. The extraction and use of resources such as raw materials or fossil fuels in turn leads to risks such as pollution, deforestation or loss of biodiversity:

  • Environmental pollution (air, water, soil, noise, light, etc.): A bad use of available resources generates the presence of harmful components for living beings that affect human and planetary health.
  • Deforestation: The elimination of vegetation causes changes in the climate that end up turning the soil into infertile land, damaging the habitat of the area, flora and fauna.
  • Loss of biodiversity: The overexploitation of natural resources leads to the impoverishment of ecosystems. Consequently, the habitat is affected causing the extinction of some species.

How is environmental impact measured?

Human well-being is directly related to environmental sustainability. This fact demonstrates the importance of measuring the effects of human activity on the environment. According to certain indicators of sustainable development, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been created to measure the consequences of our activity on the ecosystem.

Currently, more than 100 countries have the obligation to adequately assess the impacts that any project may have on the environment and people.


How to generate a positive environmental impact?

According to the “2020 Global Consumer Study” conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation, there is a consumer trend towards brands that generate a positive environmental impact. Nearly 70% of users would be willing to pay more for a sustainable product. And 57% would change their habits to achieve responsible consumption.

This means a competitive advantage for those companies and professionals working on a production model that favours the transition towards a sustainable business model. With the aim of accelerating this transition, the UN announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which can serve as a guide for all those who seek to generate this positive environmental impact.

Here are 4 real examples of how you can have a positive impact on the environment and help mitigate climate change today:

  • Reduce your environmental footprint. Measure your environmental impact and set carbon reduction and carbon neutrality targets.
  • Make use of clean energy. Develop and implement an efficient energy system that produces minimal or no ecological impact on the environment during its extraction and generation processes.
  • Promote the circular economy. Reuse, repair and recycle existing materials and products to extend the life cycle of products by optimising the extraction and use of natural resources.
  • Environmental education. Businesses and institutions have a responsibility to help raise awareness of environmental issues and provide tools to make responsible decisions and take responsible action for the environment.

Individual action is key to combating climate change, but it is not enough. Generate a positive impact by considering triple bottom line results – environmental, social and economic – in your decisions.