From improving your brand’s reputation to preserving natural resources, there are tons of reasons that your business should opt for eco-friendly products and policies. As you plan for your store’s future, it’s important to take the environment’s future into account as well.
Here are three ways to become a more eco-friendly company.
1. Enforce recycling
If you don’t already have a recycling policy in place, that’s your first step. There should be separate bins for recyclable materials, both on the sales floor and in back rooms. This includes aluminum, plastic, cardboard and paper. While you can surely recycle a customer’s empty soda bottle for him or her using your new system, the recycling cans are mainly for store operations. Employees should be trained to sort packaging and shipping materials into the appropriate recycling bins and learn where to bring the recyclables for collection. Additionally, any paperwork you no longer need should be shredded and recycled.
When you’re replacing electronic devices in the store, find out the proper recycling procedure in your town as they shouldn’t be disposed of in landfills.
2. Use supplies made from alternate materials
Companies all over the world are working to create eco-friendly products that can sufficiently replace traditional plastics. The process of manufacturing plastic uses large amounts of fossil fuels, the factories emit pollution and the products don’t break down in landfills. As a result, these firms seek out ways to substitute plastic compounds with natural materials.
One way to reduce how much plastic waste your store generates is by switching to reusable tote bags. Compared to your average plastic shopping bag that’s used once, the tote bags can be in commission for months. Your customers can bring their reusable bags in every time they shop, meaning you’re doling out fewer plastic bags.
Sugarcane is a material that’s making waves as a replacement for plastic in the U.S. Major companies including Frito-Lay and Coca-Cola have begun using sugarcane bioplastics in their packaging. However, smaller businesses can incorporate bioplastics into operations in different ways. If you own a spa or clothing store, consider replacing your plastic hangers with Sugarcane Hangers. These are made with 50 percent sugarcane and 50 percent biodegradable plastic so they’re better for the environment. Sugarcane products are just entering the U.S market, meaning you can impress customers with how far ahead of the curve you are.
You may be wondering how the plant that’s used to sweeten foods and beverages can be made into a store fixture. It starts with tall stalks of sugarcane plants, which go through a crushing process to extract the sugar. What’s left is fibers from the stalks called bagasse – this is the part of the plant that’s converted into bioplastics. Sugarcane is a great choice for bioplastic production because it doesn’t require a lot of land to grow and there’s enough land available around the world to cause a significant decrease in the production of gasoline and plastics.
“Retail companies spend close to $20 billion on energy bills annually.”
Cut down on energy use
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, retail companies spend close to $20 billion on energy bills annually. By reducing your energy costs by 10 percent, you can improve profit margins by more than 1 percent. You can make small changes to your store’s daily operations to reduce how much energy the business uses.
To start, make sure you turn off all of the lights, shut computers down and unplug electronics when they aren’t in use. Vampire energy loss is a term used to describe the way devices that you aren’t even using draw electrical currents. As a result, you may be spending an extra 5 to 10 percent on wasted electricity. While plugging and unplugging your store’s electronics will add a few minutes to your opening and closing process, both your business and the environment will benefit. You can also replace the lights in your store with energy efficient bulbs to use less energy.
ENERGY STAR recommended conducting energy audits regularly to find out how else your business can cut costs and usage. You may need to insulate your windows during the winter or set timers for your thermostats so they’re never producing more heat than necessary, such as after-hours.