Friday 29 April 2016

Sustainable Market Traders

The rise of sustainability ethics has been quite dramatic. Current generations have been brought up on a diet of consideration for our environment in ways undreamed of even 20 years ago. We are not just talking about climate change either - issues of social responsibility, economical and political development, lifestyle, and ethical consumerism are all part of the debate.  These issues pervade our media content and can't be ignored by any market trader looking to prosper in the future.

There are a range of good ways to adopt sustainable practices and many have immediate business savings. Reducing your carbon footprint by using less paper and establishing digital records is a good example. Digital records take up less space and you don't have to buy as much paper. Recycling your paper products (many traders produce mountains of cardboard) helps reduce paper costs and the demand on our forests. If every trader established a digital connection with QVM by providing an email address, we could stop printing out Trader Bulletins. If every trader created a digital connection with their customers we could all stop printing business cards.

Power usage is an issue particularly in the food halls and as power becomes more expensive the potential cost savings on careful use of lighting, heating and cooling become more important.

Plastic carry bags pollute our environment in many ways and there are alternatives. But paper bags aren't necessarily a good alternative. There is a huge amount of data on the pros and cons of plastic versus paper bags and it is fair to say that both are undesirable in terms of resource use and pollution. Genuine biodegradable bags (not the “degradable” version that just breaks down into smaller pieces of pollutant) appear to be an acceptable choice. But the best alternative is for your customer to use their own recyclable bag and perhaps you should sell a version at your stall.

This is an interesting subject and we haven’t even touched on things like sustainable food production and Fair Trade. Community expectations are changing at a rapid rate not just in the way customers want to purchase things but the standards adopted by those they are buying from. Just ask the clothing retailers who have their goods produced in third world countries.

No matter what your views are on sustainability, many of your customers are embracing it, so it makes good business sense to acknowledge that mind-set. And your recognition can only help every other trader in the market as we make QVM a more ethical place to shop.

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