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Message from the CEO, Dominique Lamb: 3 April 2018

April 03, 2018

How many bags of groceries end up in the bin at your house each year? According to Foodwise.com.au, we throw out a mammoth 20 per cent of the food we buy – around one in five bags.

That’s 345kg per household (the weight of three average-sized fridges), at an average cost of well over $1,000 (which could equate to around half the household’s electricity bill).

And that’s just food – around 20 million tonnes of garbage makes its way to hundreds of landfill sites each year, which has been in the glaring spotlight over the past 12 months.

But, changes are afoot on all manner of sustainability issues right around the globe, and retailers are on the front line.  

It’s sustainability. It’s the experience and sharing economies. It’s re-commerce. It’s corporate responsibility. It’s the rise of social enterprise, employee flexibility and co-living and co-working spaces. And it’s all aimed at increasing the benefits to all, while minimising our impacts on the world.

We have never been more conscious of our obligations to recycle more, waste less, leverage what we have and take care of each other – consumers expect it, and we better deliver it!

This encompasses every aspect of our businesses: our marketing strategies, merchandising, supply chains, sourcing practices, HR (the list goes on), and it’s playing out on a global scale.

Responsible consumption brands that prioritise organic, natural, ecological, local and fair trade practices have been catapulted out of their niches and into the mainstream, where they are leading the conversation worldwide, rather than following it.

David Jones for example is taking charge with an ethical sourcing program and supplier code of conduct aiming to ensure that the brands if stocks are sustainable, environmentally-friendly and child- and slave-labour free.

Cue, which is one of Australia’s greatest retail success stories, has taken great steps to make sure workers receive fair wages and great working conditions, and priorities Australian-made wares.

There are tech advances, like the Good on You app dedicated to ‘Fashion Without Harm’, that gives consumers the power to choose brands that are doing the right thing, and avoid those that aren’t.

Older generations would most likely laugh at the labels we apply to what we see as modern social trends – these are the practices they’ve always partaken in. As generations who lived through global wars, our grandparents and great-grandparents simply took care of their things, never wasted food, and repurposed anything and everything until it literally fell to pieces. Perhaps we can label those ideals as retro-prudential? Vintage good sense even?

Seeing the world’s value system shifting back toward community connection, work-life balance, family time, conservation of our possessions and sharing what we have is truly remarkable, and something we can all embrace. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this is especially true in the retail sector.

At the end of the day, the pool of spending hasn’t dried up, it’s just shifted. And retailers, as always, have been doing a pretty darn good job of shifting alongside it already. We are only getting started when it comes to innovative ways to connect, recycle and reinvent, and we’ll only get better over the coming years.

If you’ve got a great story to tell about how you’re embracing re-commerce, recycling, or good old reinvention in your business, we’d love to hear from you via nra.net.au.

We have some terrific initiatives percolating in this space ourselves, and can’t wait to share those with you too.

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