With so much going on in peoples’ lives, the desire for sustainability remains for many an ideal, a goal. They want to live greener, purchase environmentally friendly products and, in their own way, become better stewards of the earth’s resources.
The trouble is that, until recently, sustainability took real commitment. Seeking out recycling centers that accepted waxed cardboard milk cartons took time and effort; in a bucket, you used vinegar and baking soda to make your own home cleaners. Luckily for us (and Mother Earth), sustainability has become more accessible, personable and therefore, more successful.
How is that? Timing is a big part of it, but affordability and availability are also important. Today, there are products and services and all sorts of organizations designed to make living a more eco-friendly life less of a goal, and more of a reality.
That said, supermarket retailers aren’t the first industry that comes to mind when I think of sustainability, but I have to admit I am constantly delighted to discover all the new ways in which the food industry is guiding conventional, everyday consumers to think green.
Mind you, we’re not talking about the myriad back-of-the-house efforts supermarkets have undertaken to become more efficient, cleaner businesses. We’re talking about all the customer-facing programs and initiatives, such as reusable shopping bags, expanded recycling depots, reduced packaging and support for environmentally friendly organics and local foods.
In fact, it’s gotten to the point to where organizing the information has become critical. Take a look at how Lowe’s Food Stores is accomplishing this task. The Winston Salem, N.C.-based chain recently partnered with Do Your Part, an environmental production firm, to create “Everyday Green Living is Good for You.” This multi-platform, co-branded program includes a series of custom videos, sustainability tips and a section called Savvy Shopper, where store experts (including Lowe’s corporate dietitian) contribute articles.
Much of the information is distributed through Lowe’s various communications channels, including its website, eNewsletters, social marketing, traditional advertising and in-store marketing.
For Lowe’s the benefit of the arrangement is that much of the production is outsourced, while the content can be focused anywhere Lowe’s wants it to — brands, private label (Full Circle), special events, services (classes or store tours), promotions or company news. To date, Do Your Part has produced more than 30 custom videos that appear on Lowe’s home page. Topics have included “alternatives to chemical cleaners, wine box or bottle debate, preserving garden-grown foods, environmentally friendly party supplies and understanding beef packaging labels,” according to Lowe’s website.
As sustainability becomes a larger part of the supermarket business, effective communication is likewise going to grow in importance. Developing a comprehensive plan to execute environmentally friendly products, services and programs is definitely on everyone’s To-Do list for 2011.