5 Eco-Friendly Practices Any Retail Business Can Use to Cut Costs and Increase Revenue

Ask virtually any business person and they will tell you that they would like to do their share to help preserve the environment reduce greenhouse gases and “go green”. The rub comes when it is perceived that “going green” costs them money or negatively impacts productivity.  The truth is that learning to save the planet while doing business requires some thought, preparation, and training, but there are many ways that a retail company of any size can reduce their negative impact on the environment while either growing revenue or reducing expenses.  Here are five simple programs that you can use to get started with running a more eco-friendly retail business for yourself, your customers and the planet.

1. Recycle, reduce and reuse. Copy and printer paper is an easy place to start your business’ greening efforts. If a document is for internal use only, email it rather than print and distribute it. If your company generates a large amount of paper, have it shredded and sent to a recycler. There are any number of ways you can save a few trees once you decide to try.

You can also save other items, buy pen refills instead of new pens. Put a box by the soda machine to collect empty aluminum cans. Donate them to your local fire department, or use the money earned to pay for an employee party at the end of the year. Recycle printer and toner cartridges – in fact many office supply chains will now offer you discounts for doing so! Diligently search for ways to use less and recycle what you can. If every retailer does something, it can make a huge difference on the environment.

2. Encourage your customers to recycle as well.  Many wireless and electronics retailers are now offering customers the ability to trade-in cell phones or other electronics in exchange for getting instant rebates for products at their stores.  Some retailers have been able to generate up to 15% more sales and foot traffic by offering these electronics recycling programs.  Many of these programs offer the retailer commissions on the trade-ins plus MDF and Co-Op advertising dollars.  And electronics retailers don’t have to be the only ones participating….any retailer can utilize these programs.

3. Buy eco-friendly and recycled items. In many cases they cost the same as non-recycled products. You can find copy paper, business cards, paper towels and many more items if you look for recycled products. The more you can green items you can buy, the better for the environment overall.

4. Save electricity and water. There are many numbers of ways to reduce the amount of electricity and water your business uses each month. Learn to turn the lights off in rooms that aren’t in use. Use energy-efficient bulbs and lamps. Look for energy-efficient machinery and equipment. Cut the temperature on the water heater by a few degrees or even replace it with a smaller one! Teach your employees to be as conscious of the energy they use at work as they are at home.

5. Take it online. If possible, allow employees to telecommute to save gas and reduce the toxins in the atmosphere. Use online training and eLearning opportunities instead of hosting classes that require employee travel. Encourage carpooling by providing a bulletin board where employees can post a note if they’re looking for a ride. Buy office supplies online rather than driving to the office supply store.

There are a myriad of ways to save the planet by using more eco-friendly and environmentally-conscious business practices. Examine your current business practices and look for ways to reduce your impact. You’ll feel better about your retail business, and your grandchildren will thank you for your concern.

–          David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he has hired, trained, and performance managed thousands of retail sales representatives and retail managers.  You can learn more about instructor-led and e-learning training solutions for retailers at www.retailertrainingsolutions.com.