A Green Store

Going green may take some work, but retailers who do so will have a chance to help the environment and attract a new kind of customer to the store.


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Taking care of the planet is no longer a cause driven by a handful of people. The general public now believes that the environment is in danger and that measures have to be taken to decrease the destruction. The concerns range from global warming to toxins in our waters to the destruction of the rain forests to the disappearance of animal species, and much more. No one can save the environment single handed, but everyone can assist in small ways.

One way retailers can help is to stock earth-friendly products. In addition, decide what part of environmental defense the store will be associated with–polar bears, recycling, alternative energy, saving the rainforest, etc.–and then figure out how to help.


Getting Started
One easy way retailers can help the environment is by setting up a recycling program. Provide a bin for soda cans, water bottles or any other recyclable material that customers come into the store with. When the bin is full, invite the Boy Scouts or a church organization to take the material so they can get money for it.

Also, look at the store’s shelves and see which products have the potential to end up in a landfill. Plastic bottles hold everything from shampoo and conditioner to odor remover and skin spray. For these products, call the manufacturers and find out if they use degradable plastics or earth-friendly packaging.

In the case of plastic treat jars, consider buying and selling the treats in bulk or asking the company to offer them in cardboard boxes. Concentrated liquids are more earth-friendly than ready-to-use liquids in big, plastic bottles. Large-size plastic products are better than smaller ones, since they last longer. Many body parts are individually wrapped in plastic. Try to buy them in bulk and sell them in paper bags. In addition, use paper checkout bags, rather than plastic.

Retailers should also look at all of the ingredients in the products being sold. Flea products, shampoos, conditioners, ear products, toothpastes and skin lotions are going natural and becoming more environmentally friendly. If an ingredient listed is unfamiliar, ask the manufacturer or Google it. If a certain product or manufacturer doesn’t use earth-friendly ingredients, ask distributors for lines that meet the store’s criteria. Consider only carrying product lines that use non-toxic ingredients and earth-friendly packaging.
 

Green Products
Every green store has to sell green products. The cat section is the easiest place to start. Bring in earth friendly litter–wheat, corn and hemp. Many of these litters can be put in the toilet, so besides being earth friendly, they are easy to work with. Find out if the plastic cat box liners are recyclable and processed from other plastics. Sell recycled scratching posts and cat toys. Also make sure odor eliminators and deodorizers are earth-friendly. When the cat section is completely green, hang up a nice looking sign that says, “We care about your cat and we care about the environment.”

After finishing the cat department, move to other sections. Some commonly sold green items include dog beds, natural flea and tick sprays, and treats. Many toys are made of earth friendly materials, such as hemp and cotton. There are also lines of toys that give some money back to various causes. Contact manufacturers and get a poster, a picture or a POP display that shows customers how purchasing the toys will help the environment.


Get Involved
Retailers can also find environmental topics they are comfortable addressing and ask customers to get involved. The environmental concerns should be easy for the retailer to discuss, and the store’s customers should already be familiar with them. If I were undertaking this project, I would probably select a concern like toxins in the water. Although not extremely thrilling, it is a topic people can relate to–they have heard about the rising mercury levels in fish.

Once a retailer selects a cause, post a write-up about it at the front of the store. For my topic, I might hang a poster showing an image of beautiful, clean body of water. Next to the poster I would provide information about why everyone needs to get involved and how they can help.

Going green is going to take some work, but if a retailer doesn’t do it now, they will be doing it later. After all, green is the current trend. Think outside the box and incorporate green into various aspects of the store. There is no limit to what can be done, and the environment will thank you for it.


Jane R. Bicks, DVM, is new product development director for Trilogy International’s Healthy PetNet division and a veterinarian with over 20 years in the pet industry.

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