Sustainability is a concern for consumers nowadays. Companies are looking for ways to help protect the environment. Many practices exist to help make a retailer sustainable:

  1. Take environmental responsibility seriously
  2. Sell ​​sustainable products
  3. Do business with ethical and eco-friendly suppliers
  4. Monitor energy consumption and GHG emissions
  5. Recycle, reuse and reduce waste
  6. Use eco-friendly packaging
  7. Practice the circular economy
  8. Have responsible and transparent marketing practices

A retail store can be considered sustainable when it incorporates sustainable practices and principles into its store and its business model. Sustainability involves the environment, but also the adoption of ethical behaviours.

Read on to discover ways that make stores sustainable and some real-life examples of businesses that have adopted these practices.

1. Take Environmental Responsibility Seriously

Environmental responsibility entails for a company to reduce its environmental impact as much as possible. This involves several strategies such as the reduction of its greenhouse gas emissions, the implementation of measures to limit the quantity of water used and the monitoring of its energy consumption. Environmental responsibility also requires strategies for recycling and waste reduction.

To achieve sustainability, it is crucial for environmental and social considerations to be deeply ingrained in your company’s corporate culture and historical framework. Retailers must also implement all kinds of environmental and ethical measures aligned with their values ​​and with their desire to make a positive impact in the world around them.

To learn all about sustainable retail and the circular economy, click here.

2. Sell Sustainable Products

Selling sustainable products is a practice that make a retailer sustainable. A sustainable product is designed to be manufactured and used in a way that minimizes negative environmental and social impacts throughout its life cycle. Here are some features that any sustainable product should have:


In order to proudly promote the sale of sustainable products, it is imperative that these products last a long time. Planned obsolescence is not an option if a retailer wants to be more sustainable.

Companies wishing to sell sustainable products must prioritize the quality of materials and products and minimize the need for replacements.

Reduced Environmental Impact

The goal of sustainable products is to minimize their ecological footprint. To make these products, companies use recycled materials, reduce the energy consumption required and limit the creation of waste.

Sustainable products prioritize efficient resource usage, carbon neutrality, and minimizing their impact on ecosystems. The shipping of these products must also be done as much as possible in respect of the environment. Seek opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping and production processes and to mitigate their environmental impact.

Social Responsibility

In the production and sale of sustainable products, companies take into account the well-being of local communities and employees and the fair treatment of employees throughout the supply chain.

Employee well-being includes healthy and safe working conditions, fair wages and respect for human rights.

Life Cycle Assessment

Companies must assess the environmental impact of sustainable products from their manufacture until the end of their useful life. For example, they must assess the impacts of the extraction of raw materials, the manufacturing, the transport and the use of the product as well as how it will be discarded. This assessment helps identify improvements that can be made and improve the product to be more eco-friendly and sustainable.


Some governments and organizations issue certifications to products that meet their standards of sustainability and respect for the environment. Some of your products may qualify. Those certifications help a retailer establish themselves as sustainable.

Sustainable Products: the Example of Matt&Nat

The Montreal company Matt&Nat sells quality bags that respect the environment, animals and humans. Their bags are made of recycled materials, in addition to being vegan. Their bags are durable.

3. Do Business With Ethical and Eco-Friendly Suppliers

Sustainable retailers carefully select their product offering by considering the environmental impact, social responsibility and the health of the population. They prioritize products that are eco-friendly, made of sustainable materials and produced with responsible processes.

This selection of products is made by choosing suppliers with responsible practices and who meet certain standards. If a store wants to be sustainable, it must make sure to do business with suppliers who treat their employees well, respect the environment and support fair trade, among other things. It should avoid choosing a supplier that has unethical practices or a reputation for harming the environment.

To make your store sustainable, do not hesitate to choose a local supplier. This ensures that you encourage the local economy. Also, less transport is needed if the suppliers are close!

Natura&Co: Responsible for the Choice of Its Suppliers

Natura&Co is a Brazilian company that owns several brands of beauty products. It makes it its responsibility to source from ethical suppliers who are up to their environmental and ethical standards.

The company also does its best to keep its greenhouse gas emissions to a minimum, protect the biodiversity of the Amazon, where they source their ingredients, and that their products are safe for buyers and the environment.

Natura&Co also introduced refills in 1983, allowing customers to refill their bottles and save plastic.

4. Monitor Energy Consumption and GHG Emissions

To make your store sustainable, it is imperative to do everything in your power to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Monitoring energy consumption involves reducing energy consumption first and using renewable energy sources second.

First, reduce energy consumption and use it efficiently. To do this, one solution is to implement energy-efficient technologies or to adopt intelligent energy management systems. This kind of practice reduces greenhouse gas emissions and operating costs and contributes to make a retailer sustainable.

Then another option is to use renewable energy sources for energy supply. Transitioning to renewable energy resources like solar to meet business needs can be very beneficial. It also reduces its GHG emissions.

To reduce your energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, consider upgrading the equipment you need to operate on a daily basis. Several seemingly insignificant choices can make a difference. Here are some examples of environmental measures:

  • Install solar panels, allowing your store to have electricity from solar energy.
  • Install electric hand dryers in the bathrooms (to use less paper).
  • Properly insulate the building to heat and cool it efficiently.
  • Replace energy-intensive equipment with energy-efficient equipment.
  • Install LED bulbs to save money.
  • Install motion sensors for light to avoid using unnecessary electricity.

Google: Powered by Renewable Energy

It’s no secret that Google consumes gigantic amounts of electricity in its data centers and offices. For the past few years, Google has been making efforts to reduce its ecological footprint.

Google first implemented energy-efficient technologies. For example, the company uses artificial intelligence to optimize the temperature and the use of light in its data centers. Google has also developed advanced cooling systems to use less electricity to keep servers cool and running smoothly.

Google also claims to be carbon neutral. They emit GHGs, but they offset these emissions that could not be reduced by investing in renewable energies. Google also aims to have zero emissions by 2030.

Moreover, Google has installed solar panels to supply its offices and data centers with electricity. Google also buys electricity made using wind turbines, hydroelectric dams and geothermal batteries to heat its buildings.

Switching to renewable energy is not a perfect solution, but Google is still helping to reduce overall GHG emissions through its initiatives.

5. Recycle, Reuse and Reduce Waste

Establishing strategies to minimize waste is a good idea to become a sustainable store. A sustainable retailer will implement recycling programs for several materials (paper, plastic, glass and metals) or composting to limit the waste of organic materials.

Sometimes, it is also possible to reuse some used or recycled materials in the fabrication of your products. Check if this is possible in your company! Another solution is to buy back products and resell them or to practice renting in your store.

A lot of waste results from overstocking and inefficient inventory management. Having effective inventory management in place helps enormously in minimizing losses and maximizing revenue. To find out the best way to manage inventory, it’s here.

Do not hesitate to make your employees and customers aware of your anti-waste initiatives. They too contribute to the success of your efforts to become a sustainable retail business and to contribute positively to society. They are also part of what makes a retailer sustainable.

Loop Mission: A Company Dedicated to Eliminating Food Waste

Loop Mission is a company that aims to reduce food waste exponentially. To do this, it facilitates and promotes the supply of revalorized foods.

The company produces several kinds of drinks from food (fruits, vegetables, bread, potatoes, cooking oil) rejected by companies in the food industry.

Loop is working with food industry people to retrieve this still edible food. They make cold-pressed juices, beers, gins, smoothies, bites, soaps and sodas with it.

To avoid even more unnecessary food waste and to facilitate access to rejected food, Loop has established a program with the goal of making the sourcing of raw materials from the circular economy easier for companies operating in the food industry.. Thus, they transform these foods into stable ingredients (purees, bulk juices, fruit and vegetable powders) intended for use by food processors.

Loop’s initiatives have saved more than 15,000 tons of fruits and vegetables that were destined for the trash. They also help to avoid several tons of GHG emissions linked to food waste and to save water.

Through its initiatives, Loop is helping to democratize the use of rejected foods in products intended for sale to the consumer. They give food a second life!

6. Use Eco-Friendly Packaging

Opt for packaging made with fewer materials. Packaging made from recycled, biodegradable or reusable materials are good options for reducing packaging waste and making products eco-friendly.

When choosing packaging, focus on resource efficiency in addition to the manufacturing cost of the packaging. Opt for reusable packaging!

Alter Eco: Fair Trade and Ecological Packaging

Alter Eco is a company that makes organic, eco-friendly and fair trade chocolates, in addition to being delicious. Its goal is to create foods that help fight social inequalities and climate change.

They use recyclable or compostable packaging for their products. These biodegradable wraps are made of non-GMO vegetable and corn materials. They are plastic free. The company wants to minimize waste throughout its supply chain.

Ingredients are grown with respect for humans and ecosystems. They do that by practicing regenerative agriculture. Aligned with its mission to protect the environment, the company actively plants trees and maintains carbon neutrality.

7. Practice the Circular Economy

The traditional system (linear economy) puts pressure on the environment, populations and public health and generates a lot of waste. It evolves in a straight line: extraction, transformation, distribution, use, then elimination.

The circular economy is a new economic model that rethinks traditional economic systems in order to use fewer resources and protect ecosystems. The circular economy aims to optimize the use of resources that are already circulating in society, to minimize the waste of resources and to promote sustainability. Plus, circular economy makes a retailer sustainable.

Learn how to get started with reCommerce (circular economy) here.

Adopt the principles of the circular economy by designing your products to be durable, repairable and recyclable. Implement a take-back program to ensure products are managed responsibly at the end of their life cycle. Explore every opportunity to give a new life to materials and products! This will minimize waste. It is also an opportunity to increase your income. If you are looking for a point of sale software tailored to the circular economy, check out Alice POS!

Cascades and the Circular Economy

Cascades is a Canadian pulp and paper company. Their business model is based on the circular economy: they recover residual materials and recycle them to make new products (packaging and hygiene solutions).

Cascades is an example of a company embracing circular economy; the company lives off materials found in recycling bins and gives them a second life by transforming them into various products.

8. Have Responsible and Transparent Marketing Practices

It is essential to transparently communicate your environmental and social values ​​as well as your practices to be responsible with your target audiences. How to be transparent? By making all the information on the social and environmental impacts of your products available in a clear and accurate manner. The efforts you do to make your products eco-friendly should also be shared.

Transparency is essential and makes a retailer sustainable. Consumers want to buy from sustainable stores, but if they don’t know you’ve taken eco-friendly or ethical initiatives or if they think you’re dishonest, they won’t make purchases in your store. They will even buy less if they doubt your goodwill. 

It is for this reason that you must build your credibility to stand out in the eyes of customers. However, self-declarations that you might make about your store and your products do not help to gain customer trust and loyalty.

It is for this reason that you must go through other actors to communicate effectively with your target audience. For example, you can obtain a recognized certification or associate yourself with a recognized organization in the protection of the environment or human rights.

Sustainable retailers ensure that all of their marketing is based on honest claims and aligned with actual business practices. Responsible marketing considers what is in the best interest of society now and in the long term. This type of marketing is all about attracting potential customers, not soliciting them, by sharing authentic facts in advertisements.

Patagonia: Recognized for Its Durability and Transparency

Patagonia, a Californian company, exudes sustainability, whether through its supply chain, its programs to fight climate change or its marketing. They sell outdoor clothing.

Patagonia strives to make its supply chain as transparent as possible. The company ensures that its high environmental and ethical standards are met at all stages of its production. The company makes it a point to use materials from sources that are respectful of the environment, animals and human beings and to reduce waste. It ensures that the factories that make its products pay their employees well and treat them well. Patagonia does its best to do no harm to communities and the environment and even to do good in the world.

Patagonia sells sustainable products and uses packaging made from recycled and recyclable materials. They do everything they can to increase the life of their clothes, for example by encouraging their customers to buy second-hand clothes from them, resell Patagonia products that they no longer want, or to repair their clothes instead of throwing them away.

Patagonia also donates to environmental organizations through its “1% for the Planet” program.

In sum, with these 8 practices, you preserve the environment, contribute to collective well-being and position yourself as a responsible business. In addition to having a positive impact on the planet, these practices that make a retailer sustainable can also help you reduce costs, attract an engaged customer base and strengthen your brand image. Remember that sustainability is an ongoing journey, and it is crucial to involve your team and stay updated on the latest advancements in the field, as well as remain attentive to the perspectives of employees and customers. By investing in sustainable practices, you are helping to create a better future, both for your store and for our planet.

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