Increasing sustainability is one of the greatest challenges retailers face right now. The truth is that we’re increasingly caring more about what we buy and where it comes from — it’s not by chance that more people are adopting a vegan diet or that movements like “zero waste” are gaining momentum. But don’t look at sustainability just as a way to please your customers! We only get one planet, and it’s our job to take care of it. Your company plays a role too, and a good start improving sustainability in retail would be reducing waste.

Go paper-free

One of retail’s greatest attacks against the environment is the overuse of paper. From receipts to card statements to order requests and credit notes, saying that retail runs on paper is not an understatement. Therefore, one of the best ways to make retail businesses more sustainable is to go paper-free. Start by sending invoices to your clients using email instead of printing several copies. Not only do you avoid cutting down trees, you also manage to reduce waste — it’s a win-win.

Don’t use coupons or unnecessary cards 

When we’re talking about going paper-free, we cannot forget about discount coupons or vouchers. Client cards in plastic (usually PVC) can also be replaced with cards made out of bioplastic or recycled plastic. In fact, it’s possible to bypass cars altogether if you assign a number to each client — one that’s easy to memorize, like their phone number. But the best solution would be to join all loyalty programs using a native app — it’s easier for your clients and it’s better for our planet.

Improve production 

Sustainability starts at ground zero. If you have any decision power in the production process, try to save water and electricity across the board. Production should be as close as possible to the point of sale, and the transportation of goods should be optimized. Regarding costs, remember that customers are willing to pay more for products manufactured with environmental care. Globally, around 93% say they’re concerned about the ecological impact of the products they buy.

Use more clean energy

The easiest way to decrease energy consumption and improve sustainability in retail stores is to start using LEDs. Another measure that you can adopt is installing motion sensor lights for the bathrooms, fitting rooms and closed areas. Turn off the shop window automatically at a scheduled time and schedule when the AC and heating go on and off. If you have showers for the staff, install solar panels to heat it.  

Reuse old materials

Before you think about “recycling”, remember to reduce and reuse. Reuse old paper boxes and ask your clients to reuse the shopping bags you give them — and encourage the use of fabric bags, rather than plastic ones. Instead of throwing away defective items or products that didn’t sell, look for institutions that might be interested in upcycling or that can give some use to them. For example, the fabric can be repurposed for cleaning or for construction site rags instead of going to the landfill.