Sustainable Shopping Practices: How Can Retailers Help?

Sustainable Shopping Practices: How Can Retailers Help?

Discover how retailers can offer sustainable alternatives and promote sustainable shopping practices to help consumers make eco-friendly shopping decisions.

In recent years, sustainability has become a growing concern among consumers worldwide. People are becoming more conscious of their impact on the environment and are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. 

As a result, sustainable shopping practices are becoming increasingly popular. Consumers are seeking out products that are eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethically sourced. 

Recently it was found that 56% of consumers would like retailers to offer more promotions on sustainable products and 33% would be open to receiving advice about budgeting whilst shopping sustainably. 

It appears that British consumers want more guidance surrounding sustainable shopping from retailers. Consumers are looking for solutions, so retailers should be stepping up to help them source these solutions. 

Let’s take a closer look at what retailers can do to promote sustainable shopping practices in a way that will benefit consumers and their habits.

Eco-Friendly Initiatives

Retailers should be implementing various eco-friendly initiatives to promote sustainable shopping practices in general. These initiatives not only bring awareness to the issue but also provide solutions for consumers who are seeking to change their habits. And the solution should be something simple and easy that shoppers can implement daily.

1. Reduce Packaging Waste

One of the most significant environmental impacts of retail is packaging waste. Retailers can reduce this waste by using sustainable packaging materials or reducing the amount of packaging altogether. 

This initiative can also help to reduce costs and improve efficiency. By adding information on their packaging that is sustainable and explaining why it is, this attracts consumers to your product and they understand the choice here needs to be the sustainable one.

By making your packaging sustainable, your customers will want to invest in your product and it overall will help the consumer make a decision between you or the other brand on the shelf. 

Brands worldwide are making the shift towards greener packaging, for example Japan Tobacco International UK will ensure that 85% of their packaging is reusable and recyclable. 

To further back their move to choose recyclable packaging, they polled some consumers and 26% of them said that the type of packaging was an important environmental and ethical factor for them.

2. Recycling Programs

Retailers can set up recycling programs in their stores to encourage customers to recycle their packaging or used products. This initiative can help to reduce waste and promote a circular economy. The more visible that retailers make their sustainability initiatives, the better. 

3. Sustainable Materials

The use of sustainable materials is more and more prominent in retail nowadays and consumers will definitely buy into a product if it is labelled as using sustainable materials. 

However, you have to be sure to explain why and how your materials are sustainable, to avoid the risk of greenwashing. Retailers can also promote sustainable shopping practices by using sustainable materials, for example, organic cotton.

Retailers can use organic cotton instead of conventional cotton, which is grown using harmful pesticides and chemicals. Organic cotton is grown without the use of these chemicals, making it better for the environment and for farmers. 

There are many brands that claim to use organic cotton however cannot prove this and therefore create a false image of their sustainable brand. 

Be sure to include evidence and tell your story so that consumers understand that you truly are making good choices with sustainability.

4. Recycled Materials

Retailers can choose to use recycled materials such as plastic, paper, or glass to produce their products. This initiative can help to reduce waste and promote a circular economy. 

While it isn’t sustainable to be producing in any way shape or form, it is something that society cannot avoid. Therefore if we are going to produce, we should be at least using materials that already exist. 

Many consumers today will find it helpful if you can prove you are using recycle materials in your products and they will choose that over the other option that does not. Retailers should use this to help shoppers make sustainable choices.

5. Sustainable Wood

Another way to help is by using sustainable wood such as bamboo, cork, or reclaimed wood. This initiative can help to reduce deforestation and preserve natural habitats. If consumers know about this and the fact that their choice will be benefitting the environment then they will choose the sustainable option.

Consumer Education

The final way that retailers can help consumers and guide them in their sustainable choices is through education. Here are some examples:

6. Labelling

Retailers can label their products with information about their sustainability practices, such as the materials used or the carbon footprint of the product. This information can help consumers make informed purchasing decisions. 

If you make your labelling personal and add in a message explaining why you chose this type of material or a bit about your mission to encourage sustainability, that can be helpful too. Not only does it promote your sustainability efforts but it also feels more personal, building brand loyalty.

7. Workshops and Events

Retailers can host workshops and events to educate consumers about sustainability and how they can reduce their carbon footprint. This initiative can help to raise awareness and promote sustainable shopping practices. 

If a brand is seen to be actively engaging in the sustainability world then shoppers will be more likely to buy into it. If it’s authentic of course!

8. Online Resources

Retailers can create online resources such as blogs or videos to educate consumers about sustainability. These resources can provide guidance on sustainable shopping practices, such as how to reduce waste, choose sustainable products, or shop locally. 

Go one step further with this by being completely transparent with customers about company initiatives through blog and video content. The more honest they are and the more information they provide about what goes on at their company, how their products are deemed sustainable and why, the better. 

A great example of this is WeAreTala, a sustainable clothing line that gives full transparency about their processes and fabrics.

9. Sustainability Reports

Retailers can also publish sustainability reports that detail their environmental impact and sustainability practices. These reports can help consumers understand the company's commitment to sustainability and make informed decisions about where to shop. 

Again, if you were to learn that a pair of leggings you purchased saved 1000 litres of water, or that your decision to purchase a gym vest made from recycled wood pulp was a good one, you will feel informed as a customer. Provide facts and statistics to your consumers so you can be as engaging as possible on the sustainability front.

To sum up

So, retailers are admittedly only a small piece in the global sustainability puzzle, but they are an impactful one. By responding to consumer’s needs for more guidance and education around sustainable shopping, retailers find themselves in a better position overall.

Retailers can help consumers understand more about sustainable shopping practices by providing information and guidance on sustainable products, initiatives, and practices. By educating consumers and providing guidance, retailers can help consumers reduce their carbon footprint and make more sustainable purchasing decisions. 

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About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

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Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

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