Saving our planet; one bag at a time

December 4, 2008

Retailers benefit from eco-friendly perception: Deloitte & Touche

Consumers are happy to pay more for green products and prefer to shop at eco-friendly retailers says this article from the Los Angeles Times. The easiest way to achieve that is to give away one of our eco-friendly reusable shopping bags. Each one get reused more than 500 times and the retailer’s logo is seen by at least 100 people each time, getting him that eco-friendly perception from at least 50,000 consumers. For an unbelievably low cost!

An eco-friendly holiday is on many consumers’ minds — along with an uncertain economic situation. Many say they will shop less and cut their holiday budgets by hundreds of dollars. So in addition to slashing prices and extending store hours, retailers are boosting their selection of green products to attract shoppers.

“All retailers are looking for some edge,” said Richard Giss, a partner in accounting firm Deloitte & Touche’s consumer business division in Los Angeles. “If they can be seen as the eco-friendly retailer, that will help them.”

In Deloitte’s annual holiday survey this year, nearly half of consumers said they were willing to pay more for green gifts despite the bad economy, and 1 in 5 said they would purchase more eco-friendly products this holiday season than in the past.

But going green doesn’t mean having to spend a lot of it. “It’s a massive misconception,” said Sophie Uliano, a Los Angeles author who wrote “Gorgeously Green: 8 Simple Steps to an Earth-Friendly Life.” “People think solar panels, hybrid cars, organic jeans and very expensive skincare. But that doesn’t have to be the case.”

Whether you have already adopted an environmentally friendly lifestyle or are just starting out by recycling here and there, here are cost-conscious green gift ideas to get you started.

Finding an affordable, eco-friendly gift is easier than you might think. These days, brick-and-mortar stores and online merchants carry a wide selection of green products such as bamboo fiber bathrobes and stuffed animals made from recycled sweaters.

KellygreenAt Kellygreen Design + Home, a specialty store in Silverlake, owner Kelly Van Patter said environmentally minded holiday shoppers have purchased the store’s reusable water bottles, 100% recycled paper goods and eco-friendly bath products as gifts.

“The most popular items are functional, for people who are trying to focus on giving gifts that are low-impact,” Van Patter said. “A lot of the items are handmade and made from recycled things, so they’re not mass-produced.”

But your choices aren’t limited to small boutiques and eco-friendly websites. Big-name retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart are highlighting green items on their shelves and on the Web.

One of the most useful and cost-conscious gifts is a reusable shopping bag roomy enough to fit groceries and household items. Many stores encourage consumers to use such tote bags, which eliminate the need for “paper or plastic?” at the checkout line. Some stores even give 5-cent discounts to shoppers who bring their own bags.

“It bothers me to think we’re hurting the environment and all we have to do is bring a bag to the store to reduce that impact,” said Aynsley Amidei, co-founder of Chicago-based Goody Green Bag, which sells reusable totes for $8.95. “When I go to Macy’s or anywhere, I don’t use their bags anymore, so I’m saving them money. It’s a whole change of thinking.”

Another option is to buy a present that doesn’t involve a lot of packaging.

Ethan Schreiber, a composer from the Hollywood Hills, said he eliminated waste by not buying “material goods” as gifts.

“Rather than buying people things, I buy them experiences” such as gift cards to restaurants and concert tickets, said Schreiber, 31. “It makes me feel better.”

Another feel-good gift is a donation in your giftee’s name to an eco-friendly charity or a park or zoo. If the person you’re buying for is an animal lover, the World Wildlife Fund offers “symbolic adoptions” of more than 90 species, including polar bears and dolphins. A $25 adoption comes with a species spotlight card, a certificate and a photo of the animal you chose.

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