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EDITORIAL Happy Earth day, retailers

Plastic waste is alarming consumers (Image: AdobeStock)

Plastic waste is alarming consumers (Image: AdobeStock)

Today is Earth Day and sustainability plays among retailers and their suppliers dominate the headlines. And quite rightly. Not only do we need to take action to clean up the planet and keep those greenhouses gases in check, but also consumers are increasingly driven to choose the brands that they shop with based on how they act.

According to Nielsen, a majority (73%) of global consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment. A third of consumer say that would choose a delivery option with lower impact if given the opportunity to, even if it meant sacrificing speed of delivery.

In line with this changing shopper behaviour, leading ecommerce merchants such as Amazon, Alibaba, and Zalando are making efforts to decrease the burden their businesses create on the environment through things such as logistics efficiencies, delivery with electric vehicles and use of recycled packaging materials.

However, Zalando itself has identified that while shoppers want to do it and retailers want to help them do it, there is still a big gap between what they all want to achieve and how to actually achieve it.

It has published a report –“It Takes Two: How the Industry and Consumers Can Close the Sustainability ‘Attitude-Behaviour Gap’ in Fashion” – which investigates the gap between attitudes and behaviours. It finds that many consumers struggle to turn their sustainability priorities into fashion purchasing decisions.

So how can this gap be closed? Zalando has created a whole new experience, enabling customers to browse the more sustainable fashion based on the values they care about, such as water conservation, worker wellbeing, reusing materials, animal welfare, reducing emissions, and extending the life of fashion.

Further, Zalando continues to invest into its Pre-owned offer, enabling customers in seven additional markets to trade in and buy pre-owned fashion. From April 22, customers in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy and Sweden will be able to trade in their pre-owned garments directly on Zalando and shop items from a highly-curated and quality-checked assortment in the “Pre-owned” category.

Giving shoppers a helping hand

This is a very practical approach, but there are many other initiatives underway around the edges of retail that are also starting to helping consumers achieve their sustainability goals.

Also announced this week, payment provider Klarna has launched CO2 insights, which offers consumers access to unbiased carbon footprint data on the companies they are looking to buy from at the point of purchase. The company has also pledged $10m to carbon capture.

In a recent webinar with InternetRetailing, Missguided and payment provider Stripe also outlined how they are working to sate the green demands of consumers.

Stripe has had a standard corporate climate program since 2017 and last year, in addition to that, it announced a $1m negative emissions commitment. This was to pay to take tons of carbon out of the air and store that somewhere.

Interestingly, a bunch of Stripe merchants reached out to us asking if they could contribute money to Stripe’s $1m annual pot. This got the company thinking: maybe there’s a larger opportunity here and we started talking to a number of Stripe users?

These insights have shaped Stripe Climate. which lets merchants contribute a fraction of their revenue to carbon removal. Stripe spends that money in the same way its spends its own – in businesses removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

With more retailers looking to make what they do more ethically and sustainably productive, these initiatives from, of all places, payment providers are likely to help push the industry towards contributing to the UK’s recently updated climate change pledges.

Looks like we can sell more and save the planet after all.

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