We’re told the ethical consumer is on the rise – Millennials and Gen Z-ers are certainly interested in brands that have strong ethical codes, if the latest wave of consumer research is to be believed.
Are they really serious about changing their habits on excessive consumption and committing to greener ways of living, beyond basic household recycling? Will retailers rise to the challenge of cutting plastic wrapping in their supply chains?
The greening of mainstream retail
According to Retail Week, 2019 might be the year that consumers and retailers finally put their money where their mouth is when it comes to these issues. We’re seeing some movement in the industry. Whether it is M&S piloting plastic-free produce and getting rid of best before labels in its Tolworth store in southwest London, cosmetics giant Lush launching a plastic-free ‘naked store’ in Manchester, or Iceland’s much vaunted, but never aired on TV, anti-palm oil Christmas advert, retailers are increasingly taking a stand on some of the hot-button issues.
For retailers, the benefits of trading more ethically go beyond simply appealing to a certain demographic of consumer. If done correctly green policies can really drive business efficiency perspective – particularly in terms of reducing packaging.
Plastic-free shopping in Brighton
Store Brighton opened in February 2019 in a suburb of the Sussex city. It is a completely free-of-plastic packaging independent retail outlet. It’s run by Heather Banks and Ceri Lones who have witnessed growing consumer interest in plastic-free living. The aim is to encourage shoppers to bring their own containers, such as glass jars, and use paper bags when buying essentials like dried pasta, herbs, shampoo and cornflakes.
When Retail Connections visited on a Saturday afternoon, the store was busy and shoppers were enjoying filling from large dispensers and weighing and labelling their purchases. Customers are invited to make their own nut butters and nut milks at the ‘make it yourself’ bar.
Particularly popular are the soapnuts – these are nutshells that can be used as a laundry detergent, surface cleaner and anti-fungal pet wash. Once used they are simply composted.