Even the smallest things are helpful when working towards a goal.
Plastic-free July this year inspired me to start working towards living a plastic-free, waste-free life. It’s as if something clicked as I now struggle to come to terms with the footprint we leave on this earth for generations to come (one too many disposable coffee cups). But I work in an industry that often promotes a throw away culture, “why replace when you can get a new one at 30-70% off?”
There are many retailers “doing good” in our community using the power of their wares and philanthropic ventures to make a difference in people’s lives, their local environment and world-wide.
Many of these retailers recognised a need some time ago and have tirelessly toiled to make change a reality.
As shoppers, the support given to these incredible organisations and individuals are making a difference. As retailers, we should celebrate and learn from their endeavours – as such, RetailX would like to celebrate their success and their mission.
Me to We
On a recent trip to Toronto, we were delighted to stumble across the “We” store in the Eaton Centre. This is a not-for-profit movement which is changing the world by selling one-of-a-kind products hand-made by artisans, mainly women, in developing communities. By purchasing a bracelet, tote or any one of the accessories and housewares, the proceeds from the sale go to families in WE Charity partner communities—from Kenya to India.
This store offers an immersive and interactive experience. The store feels a sea of calm when you enter. From the crafts, woodwork and co:lab products, every corner feels like an inspiring cuddle. Shoppers can don a pair of VR goggles and explore the direct impact their purchase will make on the initiatives and third-world countries supported.
Retailing through both online and bricks-and-mortar Me to We’s socially-conscious items (We is the charitable side of the organization, while Me to We involves social enterprise programs) include co:lab products with brands such as Fossill and David’s Tea.
I stumbled upon Glassybaby while pottering in Seattle and was drawn toward a stillness and glow from this gorgeous destination.
Glassybaby delivers "one of a kindness" hand-blown glass votive. Each is a work of art as unique as the individual you choose for. More than 80 glassblowers, inspired by individual stories are handcrafted, each with its own name and born from a place of giving.
This store in now a pilgrimage for shoppers. It started back in 1998 in Seattle when Glassybaby founder Lee Rhodes bought a series of glass blowing classed for her husband. Lee was recovering from lung cancer at the time - her third bout with cancer - and raising three small children. Her husband came home from one of his classes with colourful, glass cups.
One night at dinner, Lee was lighting candles and dropped a tea light into one of the cups. What she saw was magical. The flame danced and threw off a warm, wonderful glow that she found comforting. Lee says the colour and light helped her heal and encouraged her to take that "deep breath we all forget to take."
In 2003 Lee opened a glassblowing studio and Glassybaby was born.
When Lee's husband was going through chemo, she met patients who could not afford basic costs like bus fares and groceries. So she started Glassybaby with the mission to help cancer patients who could not afford day to day needs during treatment. From the very beginning, Glassybaby donated money from sales to charities dedicated to helping with those costs.
Then in 2008, Jeff Bezos, the Amazon.com founder, came into the studio. Jeff wanted to be a part of Glassybaby and reached out to Lee. He ended up buying 20 percent of the company. And now the rest is history.
The stores have now expanded to hosting fundraisers, dinner parties, corporate retreats and bridal showers. Larger stores host hands-on glass blowing experiences and tours where visitors can immerse themselves in the experience.
I’ve been enjoying GoodFor since it opened in Ponsonby but recently I took my husband to the refillery opened in Parnell. He even commented how incredible a store it is. Now that is saying something.
In an effort to change the way we shop for food and achieve package-less pantries, brothers and eco-warriors James and Paul Denton have launched more outposts of their zero-waste supermarket across Auckland and are seeking franchises throughout the country.
The idea with the refinery is that you bring your own packaging into the store such as jars, bottles and bags. The staff weigh your packaging first and then that weight is deducted after you've filled everything up.
In ethos of the GoodFor format is to provide everything for a waste-free lifestyle, from glass jars and bottles, organic cotton shopping bags through to bamboo tooth brushes and stainless steel thermal drinking bottles, as well as ecostore cleaning and personal hygiene products.
My favourite is the kombucha's on tap, my husband rated the protein powder and I am getting my head around Ethique shampoo bar.
I simply love everything their business stands for. The best organic ingredients, gorgeous glass jars and saving our environment. Outstanding.
My message for today, it goes to show that shopping responsibly and making a difference, can and should go hand in hand. Customers are demanding it and they are paying for it. More importantly, they are falling in love with it.