Recycling at home has become the norm, but have you ever thought about ways to be more environmentally friendly in your business? What exactly does Eco-friendly mean? It simply means earth-friendly and not harmful to the environment.
You might be asking why is it important to do this as a business owner? Because consumers are asking for it. Going green isn’t a fad. Shoppers are embracing this practice and retailers should, too. You might be surprised at how many of your customers will appreciate your efforts!
#1: Keep it simple
Something as simple as placing a Recycling can in your store or back office is one easy way to get into the practice of being Eco-friendly. Ask your employees and customers to recycle plastic, paper, aluminum and whatever else your city permits.
#2: Think green when cleaning
Use cleaning products for your store that are natural and do not contain toxic or harsh chemicals in them.
#3: Reuse shipping supplies
Reuse boxes and materials that arrive with shipments of products. At the store I co-own with my sister, we sometimes receive pallet-sized shipments of goods. Instead of sending the boxes, packaging and bubble wrap all to a landfill, we keep and disassemble the boxes for flat storage, store bubble wrap in a locker and try to reuse these supplies when we ship orders to our customers.
#4: Go paperless with E-receipts
Many Point-of-Sale systems offer technology that sends receipts via email or text. Since my sister and I opened our store in 2015, we implemented e-receipts from day 1. In 4 years since we opened, I think we’ve written less than 20 paper receipts. We’re happy to provide our customers with one if they ask for it, but we also take pride in going paperless.
#5: Sell goods by makers who recycle
From jewelry to home decor, there are many designers and makers who use recycled materials to create their products.
For instance, Deanna, owner of Cleveland Street Glass, uses broken window glass from car break-ins to make beautiful jewelry.
- Ask customers if they actually WANT a bag before assuming they need one
- Use paper bags instead of plastic bags
- Recycled paper bags are even better
- Sell a reusable tote – and incentivize your customers to use the bag by offering them a discount each time they shop in your store with the tote
#7: Support an eco-friendly cause or brand
Many shop owners are hosting in-store events. Host an event where the proceeds go to a local Eco-friendly organization doing good things in your neighborhood.
#8: Be mindful of store decor
As retail store owners, we tend to have a lot of supplies in our storage areas and basements to help merchandise the store, decorate for special events and holidays, or to create window displays
- Use vintage shelving or furniture
- Reuse decor every holiday season
- Recycle items for displays
#9: Update your space
Whether you own your building or lease, there are several ways to update spaces so they are Eco-friendly
- Hand dryer in bathroom vs. paper towels
- Water-efficient sinks and toilets
- Automatic lighting sensors
- Energy-efficient light bulbs
#10: Implement an Eco-friendly business model
This one might seem extreme and it won’t work for everyone, but there are many retail businesses whose actual business model is based on being Eco-friendly. For instance, thrift and consignment stores, home decor businesses that sell refurbished furniture.
My sister and I have a home decor boutique where we specialize in refurbished furniture. We are always excited when we rescue furniture pieces that are curbside or on a tree lawn on garbage day. We know we’re sparing the landfill from one more large item and giving a good quality piece of furniture a new life.
Want to take it a step further….
#11: Make sustainability a part of your brand story
Darling Boutique, a clothing consignment store in Charlottesville, VA is a great example of this. Owner, Linnea, is well known for her sustainable business model, and most of her content on social media conveys this. Linnea makes conscientious decisions so that her business is as Eco-friendly as possible. From recycled bags to getting an air dryer installed in her restroom, she even uses empty wine bottles as boot stays.
You might be surprised at the number of ways you can help improve the carbon footprint of your business. Better yet, maybe you’re surprised at how many of these good practices are already in place at your shop.
Either way, I feel like we can always do more. Is there any ways to be more environmentally friendly that you have put into practice at your shop that wasn’t mentioned above? Tell us about it!
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Since founding The Salvaged Boutique with her sister in 2013, Kathy watched her passion grow from a fun blog and hobby with her sister on the side of her full-time job, to a thriving brick and mortar home decor store. After running the store for years, she saw the need for an online community where small business owners could find resources. So she took it upon herself to create Savvy Shopkeeper, a blog and online business dedicated to educating, motivating and building a community of shop owners. From a full-time job to full-time entrepreneur, Kathy helps hundreds of store owners and makers navigate store ownership while running a store herself.