Ethical practices and high street stores don’t always go together. The media is often filled with stories of brands cutting corners in order to cut costs; but it doesn’t have to be that way. It is easier than you might think for small business owners to ‘go green’ in their retail stores.
Thinking a little more about the planet doesn’t have to cost a fortune either. Here, we’re going to share with you 7 ways you can employ ethical practices in their store spaces to help do their bit for the environment:
1. Recycle, reuse
The most simple and effective change you can make is to recycle and reuse what you can. Most businesses – even retail shops and stores – use hundreds of tonnes of paper every year. Sadly though, most of this ends up being thrown in the landfill.
By making a conscious effort to recycle everything from paper and food packaging to bottles and plastic; small businesses can start ‘going green’. Moreover, retailers and businesses should think more carefully about what they can reuse before they throw it away. Again, this is a great place to start.
2. Switch to energy efficient lighting
Energy efficient lighting has come a long way since it first hit the market; bulbs no longer take ages to light up before still being dimmer than most conventional bulbs. By replacing tradition fluorescent and incandescent lighting with LED or CFL, you can reduce energy use and save yourself some money in the process.
3. Sustainable retail design
Retailers and small business owners will have filled their spaces with all kinds of design features in a bid to stand out from the crowd, increase store footfall, and leverage sales. But if you’re serious about going green, you should think about sustainable retail design.
By speaking to a specialist retail design agency, you will be able to design a store space that sells you brand whilst saving the planet. Sustainable design doesn’t have to cost the Earth either; it can be extremely reasonable and long-lasting so be sure to shop around.
4. Use ‘bags for life’ and e-receipts
Reusable bags are now a common feature in many stores and are a great way to try and reduce your waste. Plastic bags are a common sight on streets and landfill; by switching to cotton and biodegradable bags your business can play its part.
E-receipts are a newer concept, but have been used by Apple for a while. When you buy from the Apple store, you’re not given a conventional receipt, you’re emailed one instead. Not only does this reduce paper waste, but it can also be kept on file for customer convenience.
5. Turn it off
How many times have you left computers, cash registers and other devices on 24/7? While this might make getting stuck in in the morning quick and easy, it is a drain on the environment and your finances. Instead, make a conscious effort to switch everything off when you leave at night. This is a simple change, but it can make a big difference.
6. Cut packaging
Nothing is more frustrating for a business trying to ‘go green’ than a supplier sending a small item in enough packaging to make you think it’s Christmas. A simple way you can be more economical – and encourage others to be too – is by asking your vendors and suppliers to ship products in a simpler, more economical way. You should also consider switching to a less wasteful supplier if you still feel like you’re wasting a lot.
7. Stock green products
Our seventh and final way small businesses and independent retailers can go green is by stocking more economical products. Examine the products used in all your key merchandise and see if renewable and green alternatives are available. Switch to sources closer to home to cut the environmental impact of travelling, and ensure you’re product line is as green as you are.
For businesses wanting to look after the environment, this is only the beginning. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it is simply a change in the way you think and handle the day-to-day goings on. By following these tips though, you’re sure to succeed.
The editor of Ethical Living, and pursuer of relatively interesting information, Simon has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales, and is a photo-journalist and writer whose written and photographic work has been represented by the AFP news agency and appeared in newspapers across Europe and Asia.