What are you doing to make your store greener?

February 12, 2009

Stephanie Fleishman
2910 on the Square
Canton, MD

We recycle for our shipping: all boxes, bubble wrap, popcorn and peanuts that come in, we actually send back out when we send out orders from our website or anything else we ship. We haven’t gone to the CFLs [compact fluorescent lightbulbs], but we use halogen lights that get lots of hours. Our customers aren’t asking for bags as much. Some of them take out one of those little carry totes, put their purchase in their purse or just walk out with it. We don’t sell the carry totes yet but I want to look into them. Maybe if people spend enough, rather than selling them we will give them away when you spend $50. I always buy recycled refurbished toner cartridges for our printer. It is actually less expensive than going to Staples and buying a brand name one. They’re guaranteed, but they won’t take back the ones I have, so I am looking for a place locally that will rather than throw them out. I am wearing three layers of clothing trying to keep the heat down. For years we’ve had the heat and air conditioning on programmable thermostats. We also put a sticker on our leftover postcards from our Birthday Promotion saying, “We are going green! Bring in this postcard to receive 20 percent off your favorite item” rather than printing new ones.

Sue Sacks
Options Gallery Inc.
Healdsburg, CA

I don’t do anything to make the store green. I do concentrate on looking for products that support green efforts. I really try to focus on American-made products. I try to focus on natural materials and utilizing materials like bamboo because it is a renewable resource. We’re seeing a lot of clothing that is made out of bamboo. I just got a new card line that is made of recycled materials. I buy from local artists, which helps reduce shipping. And many of my artists are eco-friendly themselves. For instance, I have a purse line; the creator works with an interior designer and makes purses out of her fabric samples. I am trying to do more to send out communications by email versus post. I don’t sell reusable bags, but I find that my customers come in with them. Many customers will say “don’t bother with the bag, I’ll use the one I already have.” I ship a lot and rather than buying a box, I reuse the merchandise boxes that I get in. I’m thinking about changing lighting, but I haven’t done it yet. They sent me one to try, but it is only one so I can’t really tell. You need bright white lights to sell; I have a lot of jewelry.

Christi Tullis
Ambiance Interiors & Gifts
Suwanee, GA

We are using as few bags as possible; sometimes customers will say they don’t want a bag if it is not a gift, they just carry it out. Our bags and boxes are recyclable, but they’re not made out of recycled paper. We reship in the same boxes that come in. We don’t assume people want gift receipts; we always ask, which saves a ton of receipt paper. We don’t turn on all the lights until 5 minutes before we actually open which saves a ton of money. Obviously we recycle our garbage. We recycle so much, we really don’t throw anything away. We use every piece of ribbon, we turn trash into treasure around here. We are a lighting store, so switching out our lights is one thing we will not be doing. But we actually use the heat off our bulbs to help heat our store, so 65 degrees is the most that the heat ever comes on; we don’t have to turn it up as high. In our office items always get sent by email; we never print things. We send out all of our advertisements by email and they don’t have to print it out and bring it in — we just tell them to mention the email. On all of our design jobs, all the scraps get donated to schools to be made into other projects. All of our design resource materials such as wallpaper books are donated to colleges for their resource libraries. Some of these things we’ve done for years. It’s just cool to do it now.