Make sustainability part of your business, to keep the environment and your customers happy.
As consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious, they expect corporations, not just world political leaders, to take steps to protect the environment. A poll by Tiller LLC in June 2015 showed that 78 percent of Americans believe that corporations have a responsibility to adopt green practices.
As such, in response to this heightened environmental consciousness, more retailers are attempting to green their businesses practices and develop eco-friendly products to appeal to consumers.
What can you do?
Whether you are a major retailer, or one just starting up, there are many ways to go green. Simply by examining each step of your supply chain, you can identify areas in which you can introduce greener measures, thus reducing your overall environmental impact.
For starters, a company can ensure that the raw materials it uses come from sustainable sources. A bookseller can choose to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper, or a clothes manufacturer can opt for organic cotton that is endorsed by the Global Organic Textile Standard.
Retailers can also consider the use of eco-friendly materials in the items they use in warehouse storage. For instance, goods can be stored and transported on Classic Technics’ RenewMaterial Pallets. Made from agricultural waste, these pallets are recyclable, biodegradable, and even more eco-friendly than typical plastic or wooden pallets.
There’s the possibility of getting creative with green solutions — by inventing unique eco-friendly products that can create positive buzz at the same time! For example, fast food giant KFC recently introduced the world’s first edible coffee cup made of biscuit, white chocolate and sugar paper, to reduce the waste produced from discarded paper cups. Manufacturers who have come up with green innovations can also look into certifying their products with green labels awarded by trustworthy independent or government bodies.
Retailers can partner with companies that have already made the effort to go green, too. Transportation, one of the major components of last mile fulfilment, is also one of the major sources of greenhouse emissions, and companies will do well to take a leaf from DHL’s book. The logistics giant has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint that mostly comes from their transport vehicles. Similarly, companies can leverage on DHL’s capabilities by opting for climate neutral shipping for their deliveries.
Product packaging is another area that could yield great savings. Greenpac, a Singaporean packaging company, claims that its custom packaging designs fit products better, cutting out excess material and cost. Their materials are also more eco-friendly, creating greener alternatives to typically wasteful packaging practices.
Going green need not cost more; some argue that some companies actually save money by going green. Just by reducing waste and improving the water and energy efficiency of work processes, a retailer can look forward to both monetary and environmental savings. At the same time, companies can see how they can take advantage of generous subsidies offered by government or environmental agencies to offset increases in production costs.
How does being eco-friendly help your business?
Studies have shown that consumers will actively support and promote brands and retailers who they feel are tackling climate change and environmental degradation. The 2012 Edelman goodpurpose® Study found that 73 percent of respondents would swap to a different brand of similar quality to support a good cause. In addition, 72 percent would recommend a brand that supports a good cause.
With green awareness growing among consumers, it would be wise for businesses to take heed and adapt. After all, many companies are going the green track. As this green movement becomes more widespread, businesses that are slow to switch to sustainable practices could lose consumer loyalty to their eco-friendlier competitors.