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What comes around goes around: retail’s new sustainability initiatives

This month’s seen a slew of sustainable stratagems from retailers. From furniture recycling schemes to clothes for rent, we round up the best.

Charity really does begin at home

First up, Made. The oh-so-coveted online furniture brand has announced a new partnership with giving charity Geev, helping to close the loop by letting customers donate their old furniture to local communities by listing it on their app. ‘Been there, seen that’ you may be thinking, but… plot twist: when the customer buys something new from Made, Made will donate 10% of the value of the order to charity.  

Furniture recycling schemes from retailers have recently come under fire by campaigners, who have accused them of greenwashing, profiteering and promoting a disposable lifestyle. But to us, this scheme feels super genuine. Adding a charitable donation which comes out of Made’s own coffers really does demonstrate extra-mile altruism. It’s good for the customer, good for society and good for the planet. Win-win-win.

Fix up. Look Sharp. Send it back.

Next up, H&M. The Swedish brand has long been a trailblazer for clothes with a conscience, and this month it announced its new, snappily named One/Second/Suit service which allows men to borrow a suit for 24 hours to make a sharp first impression at interview. 

H&M One/Second/Suit

Although not a new idea – similar initiatives exist from charities like Suit Works and Suited for Success (and let’s not forget Moss Bros has been renting out best man and groom suits for years) – this is the first time we’ve seen such an idea from a mainstream retailer. 

They’ve made simplicity an art form with the process, too. There’s only one suit available (not literally, we’re sure) meaning no misery-of-choice paralysis, plus you don’t even need to clean it before you send it back. Just book the suit, get it delivered, and return it in the pre-paid envelope the next day. All for free. We love that this initiative is also instilling a sense of ‘less is more’; one suit that can multi-task through many events, not a suit for every occasion. It’s true talk, not just action, and although there’s an inevitable upsell on the website showing how to style and accessorise the suit, we’re loving the interview tips they’re giving out too. Part retailer, part life coach? For H&M this could well start the beginning of a loyal customer relationship as that internship progresses to first job and beyond.

Bee-ing good to the planet

Elsewhere, from a brand comms perspective, we’ve been really charmed by Benetton’s new Bee Green stream of comms. As more and more retailers realise the importance of having a clear brand voice in matters concerning sustainability, it’s refreshing to see this new take on a CSR visual identity. That’s B(ee) for Benetton. Bee for the little industrial insect without which the entire ecosystem would be in crisis… and perfectly timed to coincide with World Bee Day this month, we say B for Bravo. 

Benetton's Bee Green

And finally, a shout out to the supermarkets

They’re (rightly) continuing their march on pesky plastic, with Tesco being the first grocer to scrap plastic rings and shrink wrap from all beer and cider, a move that will see 50 million fewer pieces of unrecycled plastic being produced each year. While in an unprecedented move, Co-op and Morrisons have both responded to campaigners’ pleas this month to charge more for the Bag for Life (or as it has become known, the ‘Bag for a week’) by ditching them altogether, hopefully going partway to educating people that it takes more plastic to produce a single bag for life than it does a conventional single use bag. And while we’re bigging up the Co-op, they’re also the first to bring the price of their plant-based meals in line with meat-based meals, nudging us every closer to flexitarian diets. Respect.

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