According to Paco Underhill, Founder and CEO of Envirosell, a true sustainable environment will be the result of a fundamental change in how we live. Sustainable business practices, and living a green life, is no longer a political or financial issue. It’s simply a moral one.
In this morning’s Sustainability Symposium keynote presentation, “The Many Shades of Green,” Paco Underhill shared what this type of green change looks like around the world and how retailers can implement the ideas behind them. A few examples included:
- Being green is about being local. Comprised of an underground retail center with a village and green space above, the Dutch shopping “all” may be a shining example of how to cut car emissions out of the daily grind. This community is all things – a place to live, sleep, shop and eat. Underhill said, “Being green is about being local and thinking about what you can do in your own physical setting.”
- Make a business case for sustainable practices. In an effort to eliminate electricity consumption, Walmart has opted to use skylights and solar panels. The head engineer of Walmart was quoted as saying to management, “for every dollar you give me to spend on energy conservation, I’ll give it back to you in less than 11 months.”
- Take advantage of current green technologies. While electric cars may not seem like a smart choice for some consumers, they do fit the bill when it comes to delivery trucks, which are most likely to have a set route and mileage expected for each day of work.
- Recycle and repurpose in a way that takes energy off the table. Underhill shared that in recent talks with beverage industry executives, he asked why not use recycled aluminum soda cans for something other than new cans, in favor of something that needs no additional phases of cleaning and producing. Why not use the recycled cans as roofing shingles in third world countries, instead?
- Isn’t there a better way to do this? As retail brands continue to engineer the cost of out the supply chain, Underhill recommends continually asking, “Isn’t there a better way to do this?” Find a way to put creativity over money.
Underhill ended the session with this thought: when it comes to sustainable retailing, “the industry will change in the next 10 years more than it has in the previous 100.”
As more and more retailers (and consumers) continue to weigh green practices as a way of life, it’s exciting to consider what the future might hold.