Upside for green retailers in the crunch
M&S applauded for £200m ethical spend
The Real Green Retail Group says it applauds M&S for its £200m ethical plan and also for chiding rivals for retreating from commitment to green and ethical issues during the current economic recession.
The group, which promotes green and ethical initiatives in retailing also says that the economic downturn has green upsides, because consumers are choosing those companies over the rest.
It cites Ecology Building Society has seen record levels of savings inflow and greater awareness of the ethics around the financial sector as a whole, although overall profitability is down for a variety of reasons. Paul Ellis, CEO of Ecology Building Society, says, “People are now more focused on the ethics of money so ethical financial institutions will rebound strongly when general recovery in the economy commences.
” Organic Wine Specialist, Vintage Roots has seen its mail order business increase as more people are staying at home and socialising with friends rather than going out. Director, Neil Palmer also reveals one benefit of the economic downturn has been the enhanced relationships he has developed with suppliers to ensure price increases are kept from consumers.
Ethical Retailer, Green Shop has managed to innovate and respond to consumer’s needs by introducing refills for cleaning products which have proved popular. Green Shop’s Jane Powell reveals they have also been able to take the opportunity to consider the future and gear up for recovery, she says “When the economy recovers we are confident that the rain harvesting/ solar side of the business will expand a lot more – partly due to increased Government focus in this area.
” Making use of the slow down to reevaluate and plan for the future has been a common theme amongst the independent retailers who form the Real Green Retail Group. The ethical business sector has seen phenomenal growth in the past ten years and all the RGRG businesses are taking the opportunity to sharpen their message in the wake of a dramatic increase in the practice of ‘greenwashing’ by many mainstream and unscrupolous companies hoping to pull the (not very organic) wool over consumers eyes.
William Lana of Greenfibres believes that the financial meltdown will stimulate a higher consumer consciousness. “Keeping-up-with-Jones at any cost has lead to resource depletion, disparities of wealth, and an unstable global economy. We need to reinvent our cultural drivers. People don’t mind working hard if they feel the system is just; our system isn’t broken, but it could sure do with a major overhaul. Part of the responsibility lies with our elected leaders but we all know that real change will only come from the bottom up, and we – as consumers – are part of a massive Grassroots movement, we just don’t see ourselves as such yet. We need to buy fewer, better quality, more responsible products. Products which have histories to be proud of, and which fulfil real needs.”
Paul Ellis of Ecology Building Society agrees with this view, saying, “We must not repeat what has helped cause the crisis in the first place – untrammelled consumerism. Recovery should be led by moves to a green economy.
The Real Green Retail Group is a group of environmental and ethical retailers who aim to pioneer and promote the development of Real Green Retail initiatives. Membership of the group reflects authentic environmental and ethical practices.
The group is made up of nine retailers who have operated within the environmental sector for an average of 15 years providing a combined 160 years of experience in Green Retailing. The group is working to pioneer progress in the ethical sector and to ensure caring for the environmental is
a consumer’s priority in selecting any product or service.