8 retailers keeping Earth Day alive through a commitment to sustainability

NRF member spotlight: Companies including Best Buy, Publix and Ulta Beauty maintain sustainable business practices all year round
Juliana Saling
NRF Digital Communications

On Earth Day, April 22, the world comes together to celebrate the beauty of our planet’s nature and wildlife. Earth Day also recognizes the history of the modern environmental movement and is a reminder of the commitment we hold to protect and preserve our planet.

Sustainability in retail

Learn more about sustainable practices in retail on our sustainability headquarters.

This month, we’re highlighting NRF members that have integrated a dedication to meeting the needs of consumers with the needs of the planet. With a range of products, services and sustainability initiatives to reduce waste, mitigate environmental harm and empower consumers to engage in sustainable habits, these retailers are driving consumer engagement in planet-conscious habits.

Best Buy

Best Buy, operator of the world’s largest e-waste recycling program, is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and helping its customers do the same. Since the launch of its recycling program in 2009, Best Buy has recycled over 2 billion pounds of electronics and appliances. It’s also expanded the ability for customers to recycle old electronics with ease — either in-store or from home — through its Standalone Haul-Away service.

Best Buy

In 2020, Best Buy signed The Climate Pledge, committing to being an entirely carbon neutral company by 2040. It also plans to help customers reduce their carbon emissions by 20% by 2030, made possible through its partnership with ENERGY STAR and products designed to help conserve energy and money. Customers can also take advantage of resources and shopping tips to find the best options to meet their needs while reducing their impact on the environment.

Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co. is committed to sustainability across three key pillars: climate, consumption and community. Focused on creating products designed to last for generations, the Levi’s brand is urging consumers to be more intentional about their purchasing decisions and to look for ways to rewear, repurpose and hold on to their clothes while minimizing their own impact across areas like carbon emissions and water use.

Levi's

In 2022, LS&Co. was ranked third in the Business of Fashion Sustainability Index and has set goals for 2025 to reduce water use in highly stressed areas by 50%, operate all facilities on 100% renewable electricity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% across its global supply chain compared with a 2016 baseline.

As a founding member of advocacy coalition Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy, LS&Co. collaborates in and outside the apparel industry to promote sustainability at every level of its business operations.

Publix

Publix

In 2022, Publix recycled over 100 million pounds of materials. Its stores are designed with sustainability in mind — utilizing lighting, refrigeration and energy efficient systems and technology. Publix also offers opportunities for customers to engage in sustainable habits while they shop, with electric vehicle charging stations, recycling areas and pharmacy recycling.

Its GreenWise product line provides customers with more sustainable options that meet the company’s standards of quality. All Publix sustainability initiatives are available in an interactive virtual tour where customers can learn about progress made and goals for the future.

REI

With high standards internally, REI upholds the same expectations for sustainability performance from its brand partners. By 2030, REI plans to sell only products that have at least one “preferred attribute” within the REI Product Impact Standards, which require products to have features that help reduce carbon emissions or meet other sustainability causes.

REI

REI is a founding member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, which provides companies with a framework for understanding and improving the sustainability of their products and operations. REI members can reduce their own product waste by taking advantage of the co-op’s trade-in and resale programs.

After transitioning to renewable energy 10 years ago, REI recently announced its plan to source locally generated renewable energy for all its stores, continuing to be a leader in driving positive change in the sustainable sourcing of energy for retailers and communities. From researching microfiber pollution to establishing a successful circular commerce model to reduce carbon emissions, REI is continuously evaluating and evolving its initiatives and operations to be more effective and sustainable.

Starbucks

Starbucks is renowned for its long-time commitment to people and the planet. Furthering its mission to make coffee the first sustainably sourced agricultural product, 99% of Starbucks coffee is ethically sourced. Starbucks’ efforts to preserve the planet continue into every aspect of its business, from farming to physical storefronts all around the world.

Starbucks

In 2020, Starbucks unveiled its multi-decade commitment to becoming a resource-positive company, with the goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions, waste and water use in half by 2030. To reach its goals, the company will carry out numerous sustainability initiatives and projects including the expansion of a plant-based menu, diverting from single-use to reusable packaging options, driving innovation and reusable energy strategy, and building its supply chain to be invested in the conservation and preservation of natural resources. By 2025, 10,000 certified Starbucks Greener Stores will be operating globally, further reducing consumption and waste through physical storefronts designed to be more sustainable.

TOMS Shoes

TOMS Shoes is well known for being a purpose-driven organization, with its mission revolving around positively impacting communities and the planet. By 2025, the company plans to increase its engagement in sustainable sourcing, manufacturing and business practices, achieving five sustainability goals including sourcing of 100% sustainable cotton.

TOMS Shoes

Awarded a certification as a company in the top 5% of B Corp Organizations of its size in the community category in 2022, TOMS values the importance of strong relationships between retailers and communities to work together in preserving the planet.

The company’s Earthwise collection, which accounted for 30% of its products last year, features products that are 100% plastic-free and whose materials must meet a minimum percentage and set of standards for sustainability. All TOMS’ packaging is made with a minimum of 80% recycled materials and is entirely sourced from sustainably managed forests.

ThredUp

ThredUp, a new partner of NRF member H&M, has re-invigorated resale in a digital landscape, bringing the thrift shop directly to the consumer. With the core of its strategy centered around creating a sustainable future for fashion, ThredUp has intertwined ESG practices into the selling and buying experiences of a new generation of consumers.

THRED UP

The secondhand market is expected to double in size by 2027 with the online resale sector leading the charge in growth. ThredUp recognizes the massive potential for resale businesses to contribute to the widespread reduction of carbon emissions, overproduction of clothing and energy and water use with the increase in consumers who value secondhand as their preferred shopping method.

Through innovative ideas, collaborative partnerships and community engagement, ThredUp is finding ways for customers to improve their engagement in sustainable behaviors. They can also take advantage of ThredUp’s educational tools and resources like the Fashion Footprint Calculator, empowering them to join the journey toward a sustainable retail future.

Ulta Beauty

Ulta Beauty, the largest beauty retailer in the United States, has rapidly expanded its sustainability efforts, re-evaluating its product offering and partnerships to provide cleaner and greener options for its customers. Last year, Ulta joined the Sustainability Consortium, whose mission is to guide retailers to create more sustainable products and business practices and build connections with peers and experts.

ULTA

Launched in 2020, the Conscious Beauty line at Ulta Beauty provides transparent and sustainable product options from certified brands that fall within five category standards for qualification (sustainable packaging, positive impact, vegan, cruelty-free and made with clean ingredients). Ulta also established its Conscious Beauty Advisory Council to ensure products and packaging meet the conscious beauty standards and continues to evolve its ESG strategy and efforts.

NRF is committed to keeping sustainability on the forefront of retailers’ focus and provide our members with the information and resources they need to be changemakers in the journey toward a greener future.

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