The Latest Trends in Sustainability for Retailers
The retail industry is changing like never before, and sustainability has increasingly become a crucial factor in the success of modern organizations. This trend is likely to stay popular for years to come. This can be attributed to a variety of things, from legal ramifications (laws being enacted around sustainability) to a consumer shift. Sustainable practices are essential for any business to remain competitive in today’s climate, but many have yet to properly embrace such initiatives. From reducing packaging to sourcing more sustainable materials, there are many ways that companies can work towards greater sustainability goals. Here are a few of the latest trends in sustainability for retailers.
Retailers are now focusing on circular economy principles, which encourage reuse and recycling of products. This can include initiatives such as product repair services or offering discounts to customers who return their product for refurbishment or repurposing. The rise in popularity of the circular economy has been on an upward trajectory in recent years. The concept of creating a more sustainable and efficient economic system by reusing resources and products to their fullest potential is gaining increased traction among businesses, governments and consumers alike. This shift towards a circular economy is being driven by increasing consumer demand for clean and green.
Patagonia is a great example of this trend. Clothing (or really any product of theirs) that has reached the end of its “useful” life can be sent back to Patagonia for recycling or repurposing. The retailer ensure that all materials are reused, recycled or disposed of responsibly. Target has a similar initiative with its car seat trade-in program. This allows consumers to turn in an old or damaged car seat in exchange for 20 percent off one new car seat, stroller or baby clothes. Target partners with Waste Management to recycle materials from the old car seats. Through the partnership, 1.97 million car seats have been recycled since 2016.
Many retailers are now seeking out sustainable packaging materials like plant-based plastics or biodegradable paper, while others are taking steps to reduce the amount of packaging used for each product. Companies are increasingly recognizing the need to reduce their environmental footprint and move towards greener solutions, and sustainable packaging provides an effective way to do so. Sustainable packaging is an important consideration for retailers as it provides numerous benefits — it can help reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and protect the environment while also helping to improve customer experience. Additionally, sustainable packaging methods are often more cost effective than traditional methods, making them a smart choice for retailers looking to maximize their profits.
Thrifting is quickly becoming a popular trend in sustainability as people embrace the idea of buying second-hand items and giving them a new life. Thrift stores are great places to find quality items at an affordable price, helping to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfills each year. Not only does thrifting help reduce the environmental impact of consumption and encourages responsible consumption habits, it’s also great for your wallet. Thrift store shoppers save nearly $150 a month, or $1,760 a year, on average, by buying secondhand items, according to recent reports.
As consumer consciousness of their environmental impact is increasing, shoppers are becoming more inclined to seek out sustainable solutions and options, leading them to patronize thrift stores or second-hand stores in greater numbers. This trend is great news for retailers, as they can appeal to customers by offering both new and second-hand products. As the trend continues to gain traction, thrift stores are likely to become a major shopping destination in many communities. Additionally, this trend also provides an opportunity for sustainable fashion brands to offer their own second-hand items.
As we can see, the latest trends in sustainability for retailers offer important insights and strategies for how businesses can implement sustainability in a meaningful way. From embracing a circular economy, to introducing sustainable packaging options, to encouraging thrifting as an alternative to new consumption — there are a variety of tangible actions that retailers should consider moving forward. We've only scratched the surface of potential methods and ideas. What are some other sustainability efforts that you think could help retailers become more environmentally friendly?
Kyle Payton is the general manager of ThriftCart, an all-in-one POS system assisting nonprofits and small businesses in navigating the complexities of retail.
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Kyle Payton is the General Manager of ThriftCart, an all in one POS system assisting nonprofits and small businesses in navigating the complexities of retail.