The Pandemic Shouldn’t Be a Reason to Punt Sustainability

This past year was tough for retail. From store closures to the explosion of e-commerce to a holiday “return-aggedon,” retailers were forced to make some tough choices, pivot, and then pivot again. Amid a financially challenging and uncertain retail environment, some retailers have, unfortunately, placed environmental and social responsibility programs on the back burner.

It’s understandable. When faced with harrowing decisions, any perceived “extras” must go. However, taking this position is the problem. Sustainability isn’t a line item that should be cut easily — it’s imperative for the health of our planet. The fashion industry alone generates over 92 million tons of waste annually, or about 4 percent of the world’s waste, while e-waste in 2019 reached a record-breaking high of 53 million metric tons worldwide — a number that’s expected to soar over the next decade. The impact of unsold or unused goods is also a glaring problem exacerbated by the growth of e-commerce. Consider that product returns in the U.S. result in nearly 6 billion pounds of landfill waste.

Now, with retail already going through a reinvention phase, is the time to push harder on greener business practices, the fight against climate change, and a more sustainable retail industry for the long haul. Failing to adopt sustainable retail practices now is simply too costly for the environment and your bottom line. Read more

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