Sustainability is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. Whatever your view, the government has realised it is a vote winner and, once again, it’s got retailers in its sights to be the ones to change the habits of a generation.
From reducing plastic consumption, energy use and food waste, as retailers we have a pretty important job to do on top of the 1,001 other things we do daily. The fact of the matter is, though, by taking sustainability seriously we can reduce our overheads and win the support of customers who want to “do their bit” to live a more sustainable life.
The carrier bag levy, although not affecting us directly yet, has made us change the way we interact with customers. By asking if they need a bag, more people remember that they’ve actually got one tucked away, or can carry what they’ve bought.
Energy is a big expense for us. A few years ago we visited stores that looked warmer and more welcoming than ours. It turned out the vast array of LED lighting available could give our store a different feel, not emit heat and be cheaper to run. Although the initial cost was high, the running costs soon made things more economical and our business more sustainable.
Is it possible to live a totally sustainable life, free of plastic? Plastic is a massive part of our lives and, when treated responsibly, has its place in society. I will look forward to seeing what ideas suppliers have to help us deliver what more of our customers are looking for, and hope our planet recovers from the lapse of care in preparing it for future generations. Until then, I’ll carry on doing my little bit to help.