We’re beginning to understand more and more about the effect that we, as a species, are having on the climate. And while much of the changes required to navigate these issues safely will have to come from policy, individual companies and consumers have their role to fill too. If you’re a store owner, then it’s in your interests to ensure that you have a sustainable operation. This isn’t just because of a love for the earth, either -- studies have shown that an increasing number of consumers are electing to give their money to companies who show a concern for wider social issues. This shift will only increase in the years to come. So don’t get left behind! Below, we take a look at a few bona fide ways you move your store in the direction of becoming carbon neutral.
Perform an Energy Assessment
To figure out where you’re trying to get to, you need to figure out where you are. Before doing anything, look at performing an assessment of how much energy you’re using. If it has been some time since you’ve changed the infrastructure of your business, then you might be consuming more than you thought. If you don't know what you’re looking for, then you can hire an outside company to perform the task for you -- they’ll be able to tell you smart ways to reduce your energy consumption. This won’t just improve your store’s green credentials, either: it’ll also reduce your energy bills!
Your store could be made out of bamboo and lit by candlelight, and still have a terrible environmental record. This is because that’s only one aspect of your business -- it’s the vehicle that you use to sell goods. And if the goods you’re selling are harmful to the environment, then all the good work you’ve done with the infrastructure of your store will be mitigated by the products that you’re stocking. When it comes to buying stock, look beyond the item itself, and investigate the environmental footprint. There are a few ingredients and materials that are really damaging to the environment, such as microplastics and palm oil.
One of the biggest problems when it comes to the environment is how we travel. We all have our own fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, and we use them to zip around from one store to the next, including yours. But there are alternatives out there, such as electric vehicles and bikes, which are becoming increasingly popular (and in the future, will be the go-to option for personal transport). You can help facilitate this move by having a commercial electrician install an electric vehicle charger in your car park. This won’t just greatly improve your eco credentials: it’ll also show the public that you’re forward-thinking. You can also look at adding a bike rack, so people can cycle to your store, and provide information on your website about how customers can get to your business via public transportation, if possible.
Cutting Down Waste
There’s a lot that goes into running a store, but only because it’s how we’ve always done things. Receipts and bags were once part and parcel of running a shop, but are they really needed? In the majority of cases, no, especially receipts. When it comes to serving a customer, make sure you’re asking them if they want a receipt before printing it. Most receipts end up getting binned anyway. There’s been a shift in plastic bags recently, so most people don’t take them anyway if there’s a charge, but it’s best to avoid asking if they want one. Some people say yes without thinking about the impact.
It’s worthwhile remembering that stores can also have an impact by inspiring others, too. People are more likely to adopt earth-friendly practices if they understand, see, and appreciate the natural world. When it comes to your store, see if there’s a way to integrate touches of the outdoors into your shop. Plants and nature-inspired decorations, along with incense, will give your store that much coveted environmental vibe.
Spread the Word
You’ll have put in all of this effort to make your store more sustainable, so make sure that people know about it! You’ll find that your impact goes much further if you’re educating your customers about what you’ve done and why. Of course, no-one wants a lecture, so don’t get all preachy, but you can inform the public through your social media channels and posting notices in your shop. They’ll have a great shopping experience, and learn a thing or two. Nice!