Retailers join in the Sustainability Forum

The 21st Century has brought with it drastic changes in the business environment with consumers and businesses alike becoming increasingly concerned with the sustainability of nature’s resources. Many argue that this shift has been the result of an increased awareness of global climate change, largely due to Al Gore’s Nobel Prize-winning film ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and the introduction of political policies surrounding sustainability. These initiatives have impacted the way in which consumers view their purchases and influence their end decisions and have inevitably influenced the way in which marketers must operate.

This shift towards protecting these finite resources is not only a result of new government policies and regulations, but also internal business efforts from forward-thinking ethical companies. This market is set to grow as companies recognise the financial size of this market, and the backlash threat of non-compliance. Several large Australian retailers already ahead of the pace, will join together next week to educate and inspire other companies to implement environmentally sustainable workplace practices at the National Retail Association’s (NRA) annual Sustainability Forum.

The forum, to be held at South Bank, Brisbane, on October 27, will profile key retailers, such as Target and The Good Guys, and give them an opportunity to outline their initiatives in environmental sustainability, and illustrate ways retailers can implement sustainable practices to have a positive environmental impact and reduce costs.

NRA executive director Gary Black said retailers comparing notes on their workplace sustainable practices was fantastic for both the greater good of the community and for business growth. “Retailers realise that while they work in completely different sectors that have very different demands, they share the same consumers and have to respond to the same changing behaviour needs,” said Black. “The corporate social responsibility demonstrated by the organisations at our upcoming forum, reinforces the important leadership role retailers can play in driving the shift to sustainability. Exploring ways to introduce sustainable and efficient business practices offers new opportunities for cost reduction which should not be ignored,” he said.

The retail sector is one of the largest users of resources and producers of waste, yet awareness of environmental sustainability remains relatively low across the sector. “Retailers must work together to foster the implementation of cost-effective actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Black. “We are committed to educating retailers on the environmental and economic benefits of improved environmental performance.”

To be successful in marketing their product or service in an environmentally friendly way, an organisation must overcome consumer concerns that the organisation is simply acting in their own best interests and convince them that they are committed to sustaining society’s long-term interests at the same time. To do so, the organisation must look at all aspects of its business and seek ways to introduce environmentally friendly practices into their every day operations. Despite the risks, if it does successfully implement green policies there is potential for huge benefits, both from a consumer and sales point of view, as well as through a boost in its internal capabilities. Not only will a green approach offer positive benefits, but also as nature’s finite resources become more and more at risk, it will become a necessity to ensure their survival. Organisations who do not look for green solutions today, may find themselves out in the cold in the future.

Lachlann McDougall
Design Creative

Originally spotted in Inside Retail.

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