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Earthwise retailing makes sense.


The Green Movement has arrived. It is no longer a little-known venture carried out by a few distressed citizens. Instead, coalitions to help save our planet are coming to fruition from all over the globe. Corporate businesses, baby boomer households, inner-city schools, and even fancy food retailers are taking action. Individuals and committed communities are looking at both the short-term and the long-term problems.

Some of the steps, such as using energy more intelligently are quite simple. As The Earth Works Group in Berkeley, Calif., notes, "No point in letting the news reports and magazine coverage drive you to despair; even the most intractable environmental problems march toward a solution when everyday people get involved."

Retailers who want to jump on the bandwagon have plenty of options. Following are but a few:

* Instead of using disposable coffee cups, have your employees bring their own mugs to work or celebrate an "Employee Appreciation Week" by giving each employee a personalized mug. Run an "Earth Wise" promotion so that your regular customers get into the habit as well. Give your customers an incentive: Give something away to consumers who show they care-unbleached natural coffee filters, samples of certified organic coffees, cotton cloth filters, string bags or cloth bags sporting your store logo, or "The earth is a fine resource-Recycle" T-shirts.

* According to Diane MacEachern, author of the book Save Our Planet, "You throw out your own weight in packaging alone every 30 to 40 days!" Insist that your suppliers offer alternatives to conventional shipping materials, i.e., Styrofoam peanuts. Quite a few earth-savvy choices are available: shredded paper, cellulose wadding cushioning, wood excelsior, flexible cushioning, and padded mailing bags with no plastic content. The driving force behind the packaging uproar, say some experts, is companies not wanting to be viewed as polluters.

You and your suppliers can turn to an array of packaging sources, but there are plenty of do-it-yourself methods as well. According to Garbage magazine, one company cut its packing cost by 60% simply by plugging in a $15 household air-popper. In addition to popcorn, other inexpensive packing materials include shredded fabric and peanut shells. Anyone with an office paper-shredder can make their own paper packing material. Most importantly, let your suppliers know that you will seek other sources unless they start shipping products with "biopackaging." The next time you place an order, don't be shy--give the supplier three months to pack with a social responsibility in mind.

* Set up a newspaper/bottle recycling operation outside your store for customers. Set up recycling bins in-store for staff. Ask if other business owners in your vicinity want to recycle too. Display informative signage: "Americans go through 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, one for every resident of the state of Iowa," or "We can use old paper to make new paper ... or just keep harvesting trees for virgin pulp. Every day, America cuts down 2 million trees, but throws away about 42 million newspapers. "

* Work with your local utility to conduct an energy audit. An energy audit can identify many opportunities to conserve energy; at the same time, you can serve as an example to other businesses in the community. Report what you've done to your local press.

* Print environmental messages on your grocery bags or prepare an inexpensive educational pamphlet or "bag stuffer" about the environment. David Turk of the Indiana Market in Manhattan includes environmental tips in his store's monthly newsletters.

* Save Our Planet recommends giving your shoppers discount coupons for "low-impact" products (those that come in recyclable glass or aluminum or come wrapped in paper instead of plastic) or creating a profitable niche by stocking a private label "bio brand" of items.

* Use one higher-wattage bulb rather than two or more low-wattage bulbs. A single 100-watt bulb gives off about the same amount of light as two 60-watt bulbs, and it uses less power.

Come clean. By making small but substantial decisions, we all can make a difference.

Susan Friedman is the former executive editor of The Gourmet Retailer magazine. Based in Miami, Susan Friedman And Co. is a specialty foods and housewares editorial/consulting firm.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Lockwood Trade Journal Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:environmentally conscious retailing tips for coffee industry
Author:Friedman, Susan
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:May 1, 1991
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