Environmental Stewardship is
Why Be A Green Retailer?
Answer: To Increase Sales and Profits From Conservation Products
Conservation of natural resources isn't a passing fad. Surveys show that more Americans every year are practicing conservation in their daily lives. For example, in 1990 approximately 15 percent of our households recycled some of their solid waste. By 1996, 80 percent of our population is recycling. But recycling is only one of many ways people are trying to care for our environment.
Your hardware store is already in a good retail position to capitalize on the increasing sales of conservation products. Your customers know that saving energy, conserving water, reducing waste, and improving their homes and their communities are good ways to save money and help the environment at the same time. Where can they get conservation oriented products? At your store! And, you can sell these products at full margins because customers who are willing to practice conservation also realize the value of products that help.
To Reduce Operational Costs
Integrating environmental responsibility into normal store operations is a good business decision. By reducing and recycling waste materials that would otherwise become trash, and implementing retrofits for lighting, air conditioning and heating systems, your store can realize substantial operational savings through lower waste removal costs and utility bills.
Reducing waste makes good business sense in other ways, too. Waste reduction can reduce the cost of waste handling, office supplies, equipment and other purchases, and demonstrates our concern for the environment.
Becoming a model for conservation is an opportunity for your store to stand apart in the community as a leader and resource for consumers. Some products sold in hardlines stores will eventually create waste disposal concerns. Changing environmental regulations will impact the way and cost of disposing of these products for your customers. For example, federal legislation already prohibits the disposal of mercury-containing fluorescent tubes and rechargeable nickel-cadmium batteries in regular trash; paints, thinners and other solvents high in VOC's are considered a hazardous waste; and recycling is mandated in some communities.
Environmental questions will come up with even greater frequency in the future. More and more customers are taking environmental considerations into account when purchasing products and services. Your customers will be turned to you for these and answers to their questions even more often because for your reputation as a trusted source of product information and educational materials for the community. Knowing they can count on your store establishes a competitive advantage and increased customer loyalty.
To Save Money On Advertising Promotions
Because it impacts everyone in some way, conservation is a cause that gets the community involved. Being a community partner in conservation efforts is an advertising investment paid for with time rather than dollars.
"I can't stress enough how important community involvement is to a dealer success. It's the best sales investment I've made." said 1995 Presidents Cup Winner Larry Hassett of Palo Alto Ace Hardware, Palo Alto, California. "The return on the investment is better than any paid advertising or other promotion. Community involvement builds customer loyalty, brings new customers into the store, it's the right thing to do, and in the end, it helps the bottom line."
What is waste reduction?
Waste reduction includes all actions taken to reduce the amount and / or toxicity of waste requiring disposal. It includes waste prevention, recycling, composting, and the purchase of products that have recycled content or result in less waste
Waste reduction helps protect the environment, too. Waste reduction slows the depletion of natural resources, helps reduce pollution associated with the packaging and manufacture of products and conserves valuable landfill space. Some waste reduction efforts also reduce hazardous constituents in solid waste.
Your Store Can Follow This GreenGuide In Several Ways
Palo Alto Ace Hardware, Palo Alto,
Palo Alto Hardware has been an active partner with many environmental organizations, local utilities, and city/county governments in the San Francisco Bay Area, and model for the benefits of promoting and practicing conservation. They have actively supported local Earth Day Activities, Bay Area water quality protection efforts, community garden projects, and Stanford University's Solar Car Project. Customers can choose from a wide selection of least-toxic pest control, cleaning and other products. Educational pamphlets are displayed nearby, and employees are trained to answer customer questions.
Store owner Larry Hassett worked with the city-owned electric utility in initiating a subsidized compact fluorescent bulb program in which five local hardware stores sold the bulbs to residents for half the regular wholesale price, with the utility contributing the other half. To date of the publication, over 100,000 bulbs have been sold. According to Hassett, "Although participating stores are able to re-coup only their wholesale costs, the effort brought new customers into the store and more than paid for the bulbs in long-term sales of other products."
In purchasing decisions, they look for reduced or reusable packaging, buy in bulk whenever possible and merchandise products unpackaged. A tremendous savings in bags has been realized simply by inquiring at each sale if customers desire their purchases bagged.
Utility bills have been reduced by the use of a foam roof on the building and ceiling fans, which eliminate the need for air conditioning and reduce heating costs. All lighting fixtures have been converted to electronic ballast T8 lights. The store actively recycles, is a drop-off site for used batteries, and promotes the city oil-recycling center. Hassett believes that the exposure and good will generated by Palo Alto Hardware's community involvement is a major component of his store's overall success.
Reducing Utility Bills
Installing energy-efficient store lighting can reduce utility bills by 30 to 50 percent, and proper lighting can create a friendly and inviting atmosphere that influences customer buying to increase sales. For additional utility savings, also consider using low-flow plumbing HVAC improvements, building insulation and weatherization, and energy-efficient window. You'll see paybacks on your investments rapidly. Even painting the building a lighter color and turning out unnecessary lights will be reflected in lower utility bills.
Ace Hardware, Othello, WA
Story Ace donates their mismatched paints to the local Juvenile Corrections Department, which uses the paint to cover graffiti on public buildings. According to Denise Mayberry, "They pick up the paint several times a month and don't mind the mix of colors. We also offer free collection of used car batteries, which are returned to the battery vendor, and dates of used motor oil collections are posted in the automotive department."
Ace Hardware, Bluffton, IN
From April through January, Reed's Ace fills two truck per store each week with cardboard, which is donated to the local recycling center. They also make an additional donation each month in the form of an in-store credit to support continuation of recycling services in the community.
Used pallets are exchanged with vendors that will accept them; others are donated to uses in the community.
Ace Hardware, Springfield, IL
Springfield Ace Hardware accepts 40-50 gallons of resident's old latex and oil-based paint each week, down from the 100-150 gallons per week when their paint recycling program first began.
The paint is separated and picked up by the Illinois EPA in cooperation with the Sangamon County Solid Waste Office, where the latex paint is recycled or reused and the oil-based paint, a hazardous waste, is properly incinerated. The service is publicized with store signage and in the Illinois EPA newsletter, which is distributed around town.
According to the store manager, the service brings increased traffic into the store, especially on weekends. With an overhead lighting retrofit planned, they've already seen declines in utility bills just from encouraging employees to turn out lights in the break room and warehouse.
Some Dealers Are Already
Advertising and Merchandising
Turn concern for the environment into greater sales and profits through effective advertising and merchandising. The WATER Foundation helps dealers promote environmentally preferred products and educate consumers about conservation.
Education and Waste Reduction Services For Customers
Providing community services such as recycling spent fluorescent tubes, batteries and automotive fluids can drive customers into the store, and placing educational materials near related products helps increase products sales. An educated customer is a better customer, especially on conservation issues.
Bob's Ace Hardware,
Janice Westlund of Bob's Ace and past member of the NRHA's Hardlines Industry Environmental Council, "The reverse vending machine for aluminum cans, located in front of our store, draws extra traffic and creates high visibility within the community. It's a great tool to teach children that recycling pays. We support Ace's conservation efforts. Promoting conservation is a logical tie in for the hardware store because of the many conservation-related products we sell."
Denny & Kathy's Ace Hardware,
St. Cloud, MN
Even though there is a slight charge to cover the cost of disposal, customers are pleased to have fluorescent tube recycling available at Denny & Kathy's Ace Hardware since disposal in regular trash is prohibited in Minnesota. "Our store has been promoting conservation-related products and services for a couple of years now, and it not only feels good, but it's good for our business. We have offered fluorescent tube recycling as a service to our community, and have even made a small profit. We believe that other stores can profit from supporting waste reduction and conservation, as well as the communities in which they do business" commented Denny Timm, store owner.
Customer and Community Outreach
Community Events and Partnerships
Sponsor conservation events in your store or partner with schools, public utilities, environmental groups, service clubs, municipal government, local media and other businesses to develop community-wide conservation programs.
Davis Lumber and Hardware Company, Davis, CA
To encourage environmental stewardship, gift wrapping in the house wares department is free with recycled paper, but if a customer chooses non-recycled paper, the cost is $3.50. The proceeds are donated to TREE Davis, a local organization that plants trees for community beautification and conservation. DLHC also has an active recycling program and a "Green Thoughts" column in the employee newsletter.
"Thank you for your support and commitment. It's programs
like yours that help us meet our goals"
Grand Island Ace Hardware, Grand Island, NB
To celebrate Earth Week and Arbor Day, Ace Hardware in Grand Island held a community event on Saturday, April 27. Bog Frog greeted customers, Colorado Spruce trees were available for $0.99 each in honor of Arbor Day, and in the past, seminars have been held on recycling, composting and other related topics. To promote the event, Ace developed its own product flyer, "Earth Week with Earth-Friendly Products" distributed to over 45,000 households through the local newspaper.
Resources to Get Your Store
EPA WasteWi$e Program
EPA's Energy Star Programs
Green Lights Program- helps businesses cut their lighting bills by encouraging the installation of energy-efficient lighting where profitable. EPA provides free technical support with guides and training, modeling software to examine the cost savings potential for your store, and a Financing Directory listing utility rebates or other financing suggestions in your area. Participants have averaged 30 percent or more return on their investment.
Energy Star Buildings Program provides assistance to Green Lights participants for energy-efficient heating, cooling and ventilation upgrades, where profitable.
Energy Star Computer Program works with manufacturers and end users to bring more efficient computers to market by providing financing options.
HEMS Energy Group
Fluorescent Lamp Recycling
Mercury Technologies International is a nationwide
company for the collection and recycling of fluorescent lamps.
Recycling prevents trace amounts of mercury from entering landfills
or being incinerated. Contact any of the processing facilities
for a collection site near your store
Battery Council International
Portable Rechargeable Battery Association
Business Products Industry Association
National Recycling Coalition
Fibre Box Association
Trade Associations and Other Organizations
Plastic Loosefill Council
Steel Recycling Institute
Institute of Scrap
International Association of Pallet Recyclers
National Wooden Pallet and Container Association
National Association of Pallet Recyclers
American Plastics Council
Association of Foam Packaging Recyclers
Corrugated Packaging Council
Institute of Packaging Professionals
National Paint & Coatings Association
This is designed to get your store started on it's way towards a more profitable bottom line while helping to conserve natural resources.
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