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Environmental Stewardship is

Good Business

Why Be A Green Retailer?sticker.gif (7567 bytes)

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.

Your store's bottom line can profit from the growing conservation awareness, and you'll feel good about the contribution your store is making towards the future of your community and of our planet.

To Establish a Competitive Advantage and Customer Loyalty

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.

Categories of Some Conservation Products

Fluorescent lighting, compact and tubes Water purifiers and test kits
Halogen lighting Pollution detection kits
Solar lights Recycled paper and plastic products
Rechargeable batteries/systems Containers for recycling
Switches, timers, sensors Reusable containers
Small kitchen appliances Bulk packaged items
Set back thermostats Non-toxic cleaning supplies
Water heater blankets Non- or less toxic pest control
Foam pipe insulation Natural fertilizers and plant foods
Furnace filters Tree planting products
Storm doors, windows, vents Water saving watering products
Window treatments Composting accessories
Humidifiers, air cleaners Lawn & garden tools
Insulation, weather stripping Rechargeable lawnmowers, reel mowers
Door and window repair Bird feeders and accessories
Caulk, sealants Auto oil/fluids recyclers
Radiant heaters Tire inflation products
Fans Fuel-reducing products
Water-saving plumbing products Less-toxic paints and sealers
Plumbing repair products Plastic lumber

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Waste Prevention

The most effective way to reduce your store's waste is to generate less in the first place. 
Here are some ideas:

  • Purchase products in reusable or bulk containers

  • Buy durable equipment and fixtures

  • Reuse products and supplies rather than single-use materials

  • Reduce the use of hazardous constituents, instead use non-toxic cleaning and building maintenance products and low VOC paints.

  • Use supplies and materials more efficiently or eliminate the use of unnecessary materials and supplies.

  • Purchase products made with recycled materials.

Your Store Can Follow This GreenGuide™ In Several Ways

Palo Alto Ace Hardware, Palo Alto, CA 
A Model Leader For Waste Reduction

palo-alto.jpg (8507 bytes)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.

Potential Utility Savings For A Typical Retail Store
Annual energy cost of an existing system:
10,000 sq. ft.X 2.8 watt/sq. ft. X 4000 operating hours X $0.08/kwh= $8960
1000 watts/kilowatt

Proposed effective energy-efficient redesign:
10,000 sq. ft.X 1.0 watt/sq. ft. X 4000 operating hours X $0.08/kwh= $3200
1000 watts/kilowatt

Savings = $5760/year in fixed operating costs


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.

sticker.gif (7567 bytes)Story Ace Hardware, Othello, WA 
Mismatched paint covers graffiti

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."

sticker.gif (7567 bytes)Reed's Ace Hardware, Bluffton, IN 
Recycles Cardboard and Pallets

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.

sticker.gif (7567 bytes)Springfield Ace Hardware, Springfield, IL 
Recycles Paint, Cuts Utility Bills

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.


Waste Recycling

The next preferred alternative for waste reduction is recycling - a way of disposing of waste that cannot be prevented.  Recyclables may include: glass bottles, metal and aluminum cans, office paper, corrugated cardboard, wooden pallets and other packaging materials.   This will require setting up a system to collect, sort and store the recyclables.   In some cases, recycling costs less than standard waste disposal.

Depending on the services available in your community, your store may be responsible for transport to a recycling center.  It may be possible to contact with the local waste hauler or recycling company, or participate in existing municipal collection efforts.  Establish an employee-managed internal recycling program, with employee incentives for innovative and cost-saving ideas.

Miss-matched paint can be recycled usually in cooperation with a local or county solid and hazardous waste agency, sold on clearance or donated for community projects.

Materials Exchange

Other businesses, nonprofit organizations or community groups can often use materials that might otherwise be disposed of.  These materials can be traded, donated or sold on clearance, building supplies, old equipment, used pallets donated for scrap wood, and many other items.  Be creative and ask around.



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Some Dealers Are Already
Making a Green Profit

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, Rockford, IL 
Reverse Vending Machine Teaches Recycling - Can In, Coin Out

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 
Collects Spent Fluorescent Tubes

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.

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Customer and Community Outreachbf-kidsgg.jpg (4381 bytes)

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 
Non-Recycled Gift Wrap Helps Plant Treesgiftwrap.jpg (4286 bytes)

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"
Martha Ozonoff, Executive Director, TREE Davis

Grand Island Ace Hardware, Grand Island, NB 
Bog Frog Helps Celebrate Earth Week and Arbor Daybf-instore.jpg (3838 bytes)

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.

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Resources to Get Your Store 
Started Leading The Way

Public Officials
Check with state, county, or city public officials responsible for waste management.   Visit their offices to find out how your store is impacted by current waste management regulations or ordinances, and solicit their suggestions on waste management, energy/water conservation and other environmental affairs.

Local Utilities
Contact your local utility for an internal store audit of current electric and water use and request assistance reducing usage.  Inquire about other services, financing assistance, and educational materials they can provide.

Federal Resources

EPA WasteWi$e Program
1-800-EPA-WISE (372-9473)
A voluntary program to assist businesses in designing their own solid waste reduction program that includes waste prevention, recycling and the purchase of recycled products.   Technical assistance, on-to-one consultation with a WasteWi$e representative and free resource materials, including: Source Reduction Now notebook and special reports Employee Education, Measuring Waste Reduction and A Fresh Look at Packaging Directory to locate manufacturers of reusable shipping containers (bins, bags, pallets, boxes, etc.)

EPA's Energy Star Programs
Hotline 202-775-6650 FAX: 202-775-6680
U.S. EPA (6202J),
401 M Street SW, Washington, DC 20460
Voluntary partnerships to encourage the use of energy-efficient equipment to reduce air pollution.

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.

Energy-Efficient Lighting

HEMS Energy Group
Contact Paul Rorer 215-781-8111, ext. 318
1119 Beaver Street, Bristol, PA 19007
HEMS will contract with a local lighting installer to survey your store's existing lighting and make lighting redesign and retrofit recommendations.  The survey charge of $0.10 /sq .ft. of retail space will be refunded by Ace towards the purchase of equipment.  Some fixtures are available directly from your RSC.  Check your local utility company for rebates and financing programs.  For more information contact Roger Schultz, Ace Retail Development, 708-990-6495.

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
Allentown, PA                 800-554-AERC
Hayward, CA                  800-628-3675
West Melbourne, FL       800-808-4MTI

Battery Recycling

Battery Council International
401 North Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611
312-644-6610 X3558
Provides companies with information on battery recycling; case studies available.

Portable Rechargeable Battery Association
Collects used rechargeable batteries from store recycling projects; provides assistance for setting up a collection site.

Buy Recycled

Business Products Industry Association
301 North Fairfax, Alexandria, VA 22313
Provides stores with information on the recycled products and recycling programs of manufacturers of business products; resource guides available.

National Recycling Coalition
Provides technical assistance, compiles research, increases public awareness, shapes public policy, and develops programs on recycling.  Buy Recycled Business Alliance, a program of NRC, helps companies increase their use of recycled content products.

Fibre Box Association
Publications for manufacturers, buyers and users of corrugated and solid fibre board.

Trade Associations and Other Organizations

Plastic Loosefill Council
Locations of recycling facilities for polystyrene packaging peanuts.

Steel Recycling Institute
Maintains a database on locations for recycling of steel containers and other recyclable; staff can provide assistance to businesses on steel recycling.

Institute of Scrap
Recycling Industries, Inc.
Will answer waste prevention and recycling questions on scrap.

International Association of Pallet Recyclers
Locations of pallet refurbishers in your state.

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association
Information on pallet disposal options and a guaranteed buy-back program.

National Association of Pallet Recyclers
Technical information on pallet recycling and safe disposal of pallets.

American Plastics Council
Information on recycling different types of plastic packaging and market locations.

Association of Foam Packaging Recyclers
Provides a list of polystyrene recycling collection centers.

Corrugated Packaging Council
Nationwide listing of recycling facilities that accept corrugated cardboard.

Institute of Packaging Professionals
Over 80 books/guides on packaging reduction, reuse, recycling, and disposal guidelines.

National Paint & Coatings Association
202-332-3194  - 202-462-0347
Information hot-line on paint disposal and other related concerns.  Books, pamphlets and newsletters on pertinent subjects including post-consumer waste disposal, management information, labeling, etc.  Call for a free copy of Managing Left Over Paint: Six Ways You Can Help Protect The Planet and Paint Disposal...The Right Way.   Bulk quantities can be purchased for customer distribution.


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More GreenGuide Opportunities To Come

This is designed to get your store started on it's way towards a more profitable bottom line while helping to conserve natural resources. 

  • Profitable strategies for purchasing, advertising and merchandising conservation products.

  • Technical Assistance for waste reduction, efficient waste handling and utility savings.

  • More case studies and best management practices from other dealers.

  • Educational material for employees and customers.

Learn How To:

  • Be recognized as a supplier of conservation-related products.

  • Advertise your store with a small conservation budget.

  • Provide services for the conservation-minded consumer that the "Big Boxes" can not.

  • Reduce operational costs with better waste management and utility savings.

  • Work successfully with government agencies and profit from environmental regulations.

  • Benefit from real life lessons from other stores involved with conservation efforts.

  • Initiate proven community programs and services to increase traffic and build loyalty.


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