As consumers focus their attention on how to reduce the impact their purchases have on the environment, national retailers are forced to re-evaluate their processes in an effort to become more sustainable. Many have implemented recycling programs, while others are focusing their attention on consumer education. Either way, consumers are driving the demand for green.

Retailers across the country have introduced waste reduction plans, fundraisers and promoted the use of green products within their own business. Such programs drive attention to the environmental consciousness of national corporations.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart stores have made great progress to help reduce their environmental-impact. Their goal is to recycle 100 percent of their products by eliminating the use of materials that can’t be recycled and instituting/promoting recycling programs in all corporate-owned facilities.

To date, this retailer has diverted more than 56 million pounds of plastic from landfills and recycled more than 16.8 billion pounds of cardboard (saving more than 212 million trees). Through multiple programs, the superstore has also aided in the recycling of 1,400 tons of plastic bags.

Wal-Mart also promotes the use of sustainable products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs and the use of products and chemicals that are good for the environment — like extended-roll paper towels and cold water detergents.

Kohl’s Department Stores
The Kohl’s Corp. focuses their attention on energy by converting more than 75 percent of its California locations to solar power. Doing so has pushed Kohl’s up to No. 8 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) National Top 25 list, as well as jumping to No. 2 on the EPA Top 10 Retail list of the largest green power purchasers.

“Kohl’s is committed to environmental responsibility,” said Ken Bonning, executive vice president of logistics. “We are actively seeking ways to make a difference as an organization. Our continued commitment to green power is an important way Kohl’s can make an immediate and long-term impact.”

Kohl’s is also investigating expanding the solar program to six other states.

Best Buy
Best Buy Co., in an effort to promote environmental responsibility, has introduced a consumer electronics recycling program. This electronic giant features drop-off kiosks in all its stores. These kiosks collected more than 90,000 pounds of old cell phones in 2006 alone.

Weekend recycling events held across the United States also emphasize the company’s commitment to the environment. Since the introduction of such events, Best Buy has helped collect more than 5 million pounds of e-waste. In cooperation with the EPA, electronic companies across the country recycled more than 17,000 tons of e-waste in 2006.

Beyond recycling, Best Buy has explored various ways to improve energy use, reduce transportation and packaging, minimize waste and improve store designs and construction.

They stress that reducing cooling systems by just one degree would save over 11 million kilowatt hours of energy and close to $1 million annually in energy costs.

These, as well as other national retailers, are actively looking for ways to reduce their impact on the environment through compact packaging, improved recycling programs and a reduction in energy. No doubt their actions will result in big environmental rewards.