The retail industry has the largest energy bills and the second largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the commercial sector of the U.S economy, according to the EPA. If retailers made even small adjustments to their practices, wouldn’t this have a profound impact on the welfare of our environment? In an attempt to give an extra push in the right direction, the Retail Industry Leader’s Association (RILA) released the first ever Retail Sustainability Report earlier this week. Businesses can now see how their sustainability efforts stack up, and generate new ideas based off successful approaches other retailers are taking.
So what are some of these innovations that reduce environmental impact and save money? Many retailers are launching smaller, specialty stores that will take up less space therefore cutting energy costs. Petco Unleashed will offer only high-end pet products in urban areas and Best Buy Mobile will specialize exclusively in mobile devices. Business are also installing energy-efficient equipment, such as motion-activated lighting and advanced ventilation systems. Target has even committed to achieve Energy Star certification for 75% of their stores 2015. Another innovative approach many retailers are taking is to run employee education programs so all staff members are aware of their individual impacts.
Of course there are still many obstacles, especially since the retail chain incorporates a vast variety of people, including those at manufactures and transit companies. Retailers are recognizing that they must be the ones to instigate change and lead the sustainable movement. Staples for instance, is attempting to work directly with suppliers to reduce unnecessary packaging, and CVS is trying to optimize transportation routes. The industry is also remedying this by making the product and supply chains more transparent.
One of the best ways to ensure large retailers stay on the right path is for you, the consumer, to be conscious of your favorite stores’ sustainable efforts. It is clear that one of the driving forces for the retail industry to change their practices is that shoppers are becomingly increasingly concerned about their environmental and social impact. You can consult GoodGuide to reveal the true social and environmental impacts of brands and companies, and use our new comparison tools to find retailers that match your values.