Retail is Trending Toward Sustainability - Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Retail is Trending Toward Sustainability

March 29, 2022

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The retail industry is in a state of consistent, year-over-year growth. This spells major environmental issues around the world, and in developing countries, in particular. While some companies have been slow to adopt environmentally sustainable practices, others have excelled in minimizing their products’ footprints. Here, we celebrate sustainable trends that the retail industry has been widely adopting in recent years. 

The issue at hand

Every commodity you buy (either online or in-store) has an emissions footprint. This footprint represents the running tally of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that were emitted to manufacture, ship, and store the product. For a pair of sneakers, let’s say, a footprint would encapsulate the emissions from the machine used to mold the rubber in the sole, to the cardboard used to produce the shoes’ box, and everything in between.

Retail products are known to have huge footprints, which means the industry is responsible for massive emissions in total. 

It’s not all bad news, though…

Sustainable retail 101

Sustainable retail practices have emerged in response to the pressing crisis of climate change. They include diverse efforts to minimize emissions from all parts of their footprints. Companies across industries are embracing sustainability, from using fair trade ingredients in food products to recycling tech components. 

In fact, practically every product you could want or need has a sustainably designed alternative, making reducing your carbon footprint easier than ever.

Trends in sustainability

From fashion to food & beverage, as the demand for eco-conscious alternatives increases, companies are getting creative with sustainable retail practices. Here are just a few highlights.

  1. Sustainable materials

Where a brand sources the materials for their goods plays a large role in their overall emissions. This is dependent on where the materials are harvested, how they are processed, and the waste they produce. Retailers can target all of these points in sustainably sourcing their materials. Sabai Design, for example, manufactures their sofas, chairs, and home decor using recycled, upcycled, and natural fabrics. 

  1. Environmental philanthropy 

In addition to improving their own practices, some retailers have undertaken philanthropic efforts to support the sustainability community. Their donations ensure innovators and action groups have the funding they need to make real progress. 1% For the Planet offers one path to give directly to such causes. 

  1. Eco Shipping

The materials brands use to package and ship their products also play into their footprints. Using recyclable, biodegradable, and minimized packaging is a great way to make purchases less emissions intensive. Learn more about eco shipping here

  1. Offsetting

At a certain point, a good’s emissions can’t be reduced further. To attain carbon neutrality, merchants can work with offsetting platforms like Neutrl. By investing in emissions negative projects, brands can cut the emissions from their operations down further. 

Does sustainability cost more?

Maybe the best part of sustainable retail is that it doesn’t need to cost more than unsustainable competition. In fact, many sustainable products are less expensive than their emissions intensive competitors. By reducing shipping distances, reusing materials, consuming less packaging, among other methods, retailers can reduce their costs significantly (and pass on the savings to consumers). 

In conclusion

Sustainable retail practices were created to combat the troubling emissions from the retail industry. They can address any part of a product’s overall footprint, from materials sourcing to delivery. Because sustainable retail is better for the environment and can cost customers less, it's a win, win!


Want to learn more?
FAQs on Sustainable Retail Trends

What is sustainable retail?

Sustainably retailed products consider (and minimize) their impact on the environment through their materials sourcing, manufacture, or shipping.

What are some ways to reduce a product’s emissions?

Shipping products in fewer or smaller boxes, using recycled cardboard, or skipping carbon-intensive styrofoam are great ways to reduce their overall emissions.

Is thrifting a sustainable way to shop?

Absolutely, thrifting is a sustainable trend! By reusing an item of clothing, thrifted items skip the manufacture of an additional textile.

Do sustainable products cost more?

Products that consider their impact on the environment do not cost more – many cost less. The environment does not need to come at the expense of the economy!