Our article was recently featured in Triple Pundit, here’s a quick snippet:
The growing public concern around climate change has pushed businesses to transition to more sustainable business models, utilizing new strategies to not only respond to their customer demands but also to reduce their overall climate impact. It is a common challenge for a small business to have little-to-no leverage when it comes to discussions about sourcing renewable energy, buying biodegradable chemical components, or using organic produce. The reasons that many small businesses are not motivated to “go green” are plenty.
Sustainable retail is defined by sellers of goods that have long-term financial, social, and environmental awareness embedded into their business model. This broad terminology can be used to represent product design, sourcing of raw materials, labor practices and working conditions, transportation and distribution methods, educational strategies, branding and marketing, and internal energy use reduction initiatives.
Procurement and sourcing consciousness has grown as firms are beginning to scrutinize their supply chains, and hold suppliers accountable to higher social and environmental standards.
Suppliers tend to charge a premium for all things “sustainably sourced” or “organic,” and when you don’t have a bottomless credit line with a bank, it’s hard to keep the prices competitive. Generating renewable energy on-site usually requires a large up-front investment, and saving for that takes time. So, how does a small company approach doing business with these constraints in mind?
It’s not just about the sale. It’s about how your business fits into your community, your environment and your personal values. Small business owners have a much better understanding of this than a big-box retailer does.
Artisan’s Trading is a furniture company based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, that sustainably sources all of its hardwood furniture from Indonesia, using local fair-trade labor. At the same time, the company keeps its prices at least at a third less than the market average. Its supply chain is international, yet it is as short as it is transparent.
“There is a major problem with deforestation around the globe and where the companies are sourcing the wood from. We found that in trying to be sustainable, it is difficult to know where it comes from, since wood doesn’t get a serial number,” said Baylor Bennett, the business development manager for Artisan’s Trading. “Most of the companies we work with are family-based operations. Some of them are second- and third-generation furniture makers that are now studying business and doing their own exports. All of these company owners invited us out to see their factories and meet their workers.”