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Retailers selling green products can do more to go green themselves: report

A new report by the University of Western Ontario has found that Canadian retailers aren’t doing a very good job at “going green”, despite stocking plenty of green products to please eco-conscious customers.

The report, called “Dreaming of a Green Christmas? Sustainability and the Retail Sector” found that while products like organic gift baskets, fair trade chocolate and coffee and energy-efficient Christmas lights are lining the shelves this time of year, the retailers themselves could be doing a lot more.

Areas that need improvement according to the report include being too slow to implement sustainable products and a lack of job security and workplace diversity. One other major area that needs improvement is many retailers’ supply chains, which are not very well thought out or organized with respect to the environment.

One glaring example of this problem is that some retailers have large distribution centers that provide products to their locations across Ontario. Even if a product is made in the same town as the store that will eventually sell it, the product is still trucked away to the distribution center and then trucked back to the store. Many store managers are also prohibited from locally sourcing products, and can only order from these central distribution warehouses.   “Retailers are at the end of a very long chain of people that touch the products that consumers buy,” said the report. “The standards of people working within these organizations and the kinds of environment or even social practices, the pollution, the quality of products used, can be difficult to understand.”

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