Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – How Retailers Can Be Green

In the spirit of Earth Day, retailers who have not caught onto the trend of being “green” should consider what they can do to get in the game. But rather than look at their actions as a trend that will come and go, they should instead make these changes with the goal of permanently implementing them.

[tweetmeme]Some easy changes that will not only help the environment but save you money in the long run include:

1. Encourage reusable shopping bags. This saves you money by not having to buy plastic / paper bags as often. In addition, if you sell reusable bags at your store you can make money. Some additional ideas, including suggested reusable bags to sell, can be found here –

2. Get rid of all your paper and plastic utensils, plates and napkins. Instead use regular glasses, plates and silverware. Although you may need water to clean these, it is better than plastic sitting in landfills FOREVER.

3. Use eco-friendly cleaning products.There are great green products that clean everything from counter surfaces to floors to bathrooms. One suggested line of eco-friendly products is Mrs. Meyer’s,

4. Print papers only when necessary and if possible, double sided. This includes receipts for your customers. Before you hit print on any receipt, ask your customer if they need it or possibly they would prefer you to email it to them. When you do need to print something, use both sides of the paper when possible.

5. Go digital when it comes to placing orders, tracking inventory and doing other business chores. From banking to faxing to filing invoices, you can do this all through your computer. You’ll save money in ink and paper – plus you will help save the environment.

6. Use re-chargable batteries. Office supply stores often have collection centers for old batteries, which can be recycled. Switch to re-chargable ones to help eliminate additional waste.

7. Use lighting as necessary and switch to energy conscious light choices. Compact fluorescent bulbs and low energy lighting are a great solution to save energy and save dollars. Use timers to turn lights off when they aren’t needed so that your busy day doesn’t have t be interrupted.

8. Try and eliminate waste of any sort. This may seem like a hefty challenge, but if you think about what you are tossing out and how it may be used again, this helps. Packagaing materials are great examples of what can be re-used. Even plastic silverware can have an extended life span if you keep them clean.

9. Use second hand products for display and store merchandising. Stores that are closing are always looking to sell off their fixtures. Merchandising accessories can be found nearly anywhere, so consider shopping garage sales or even your own basement. Be creative and remember to re-use, re-use, re-use.

10. Donate or recycle old computers and other technology based equipment. To find out more on how you can do this specific to your location, visit

If you have to think selfishly to get in the act, remember that you will save money in the long term by making these changes now. Ideally, though, you will think about the impact that these choices can make on our environment – and how by conserving, you will likely keep costs down so that consumers can still afford to shop!


  • Susan
    May 19, 2010

    It’s a great way to sway customers, too, as many shoppers are also very eco-minded these days. As long as you’re honest about it. But if you strive to be green, I see nothing wrong with bragging about it in-store and in your marketing materials.

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