Introduction: Making Your Shop More Environmentally Friendly.

Picture of Making Your Shop More Environmentally Friendly.

This 'ible is aimed at both cashiers and the higher ups like managers and supervisors.

The aim is to reduce your shop's environmental impact.

Other benefits include lowering the running costs of your shop and dealing with less waste and inbound orders of consumables.

Step 1: Starting Simple.

Picture of Starting Simple.

Now this is one of the most obvious ones in the world but still many just don't think.

Printing unnecessary receipts is incredibly wasteful, unless someone pays by card or cheque then don't print a receipt unless they ask for one, it's wasteful, bad for the environment and cost the shop money in wasted receipt paper which is heat sensitive and not that cheap from what I remember about our old fax machine.

Other advantages include not having to empty your bin box under your till as often and not having as much to pay for waste removal.

Step 2: Electricity...

Picture of Electricity...

There are loads of ways to lower your shop's energy usage, starting with your fridges and freezers, especially the open ones.

Make sure they are well stocked, this prevents the cold air 'falling' out and being replaced with warmer air that then must be cold by the freezer or fridge.

Keep the lights in fridges off until they're needed in the evenings, there just sitting there wasting energy when it's light.

Always remember to pull your covers down on the likes of open drinks chillers when the night's up, it saves alot of energy.

Make sure all your fridges and freezers are running well and properly serviced, this is good for both reliablity and keeping them running efficiently.

If you have large backup freezers make sure that you're only using the ones you need and keeping empty ones off.

Step 3: Electricity Continued.

Picture of Electricity Continued.

Make sure all your bulbs like the office ones are changed to CFL's and that they're only on when they need to be.

Turn off any unnecessary electronics around the, you'd be surprised how many random machines are on all the time when they don't need to be, this is usually caused by refits of the computer systems and some old stuff will remain but be unused.

Turn off tills that aren't used most of the time, in smaller shops there is usually a third till that isn't used except in times like christmas, it doesn't need to be on all year round.

Make sure any outside signs with lighting aren't turned on when it's still light outside, there's just no point at all, also check the paper shed light isn't left on.

Step 4: Other Things Around the Building.

Picture of Other Things Around the Building.

Make sure your toilets have been fitted with low flow blocks or are low flow toilets, fit low flow aerators to taps, Since you're paying business rates you may aswell save any money you can on them.

Make sure you're only using the air conditioning and heating when necessary, on a just kinda warm day opening the doors can be just as effective and attract customers.

Be sensible and efficient when adjusting stock orders, this will help minimize wastage and save energy, money and space used up storing goods that were ordered unnecessarily. It also lower environmental impact by reducing the amount of stuff being driven around the countryside in lorries.

With wastage always do lots of date checking and be careful about how and when to reduce short dated stocks, some things will sell without reduction better because customers can be snotty about reduced goods. Reducing things slightly earlier and reducing less can save money and waste at the consumer end of things.

Always remember to turn off the hot food oven after it's empty, this can be forgotten so easily and is barely noticeable. Lowering the setting of the heat slightly is also better for the environment and sales, by the end of the day the food will be burnt to a crisp if set too high, it can be hot enough to eat at around the middle setting.

Step 5: Plastic Bags.

Picture of Plastic Bags.
This is the mac daddy of hot topic problems at the moment.

Recently our shop tried to cut them out and it was getting close to lynchings...

You can reduce the usage of plastic bags in alot of different ways, I tried a little social experiment and found that phrases like:

  • Bother with a bag, or just leave it?
  • Do you need a bag?
  • That be ok like that?

Also if they buy a paper or magazine and a few other things setting them neatly on the counter makes people more likely to take them away as is and even if they must have a bag you can just slide everything in to it.

If they have other plastic bags on them it's worth saying 'Need a bag or just chuck it in that one?'

Do remember to suggest bags for life or leave them on display in the till area, you'll find that people will be interested in the likes of the cotton tote bags and will be more susceptible to buying one.

Generally persuading people to part with free plastic bags is hard but if you warn them that you'll soon be stopping them or charging you'll find a sharp rise in customers bringing their own bags or getting a bag for life.

Step 6: The Roundup.

Picture of The Roundup.

This is really just an introduction to lowering your shop's environmental impact but anything is better than nothing.

Some final additions are to:

Use a compactor and recycle your cardboard.

Put all plastic packaging in bags and send away for recycling.

Try to lower waste and wastage anywhere possible, the likes of products that don't really go off can always be sold for extremely low prices to recoup some of any losses made and to help keep them from being wasted competely.

Hopefully some of these tips can help lower the running costs and environmental impact of your shop, any suggestions, additions and comments are welcome.



galadriel (author)2008-06-21

There is a good reason for printing a receipt for every transaction. Without a printed receipt, employees may ring up a sale, but cancel it out, and pocket the money; this became a problem, hence the increased frequency of the receipt-for-every-transaction policies. In many US businesses, you can find signs that say, "If we don't give you a receipt, your purchase is FREE." In this way, the customer helps the company keep tabs on the validity of a transaction. One faked transaction will certainly cost a company more than their entire receipt roll for the day. And customers have their own incentive to make sure they get a receipt.

Aye but now all computer systems show both void transactions and receipts, I was actually shouted at for using the mark down to void things where the scanner went a bit nuts, it comes up with security alerts for multiple voids to stop this system, obviously in older shops the receipt system is a great idea, however in many shops it has become redundant...

Yep and now lots of video systems will show all the cash register input so you can watch and review it with easy, allowing store owners to catch the more interesting scams some employees try and play.... Killerjackalope.. Great Ible And about the sign lighting, even if you always turn off the lights, install a light sensor switch and take the time to set it correctly, so if you or one of your employees forgets, it never will... I like the part about turning off the freezer lighting, I see some new big box stores are using motion sensors mounted to the tops of there freezers to turn on and off lighting while no one is around, and they have also started to swap out fluorescent tubes with led lighting to reduce the heating inside the freezer

Yep... I'll come back to this and add steps as they grow...

thanks by the way, also I thought those freezer ligths were pretty cool but they were a bit annoying...

The only time I seen them turn off is first thing in the morning, I guess it takes 15 min with no movement to turn them off and the motion sensors are linked together so they turn on several freezers as you walk down the isle, I though it was neat, and kinda wished they would turn off behind me, almost like the little man in the freezer who we all know hides there and turns off the light while your not looking was following me ... But I did really like the LED lighting, they used a very cool blueish white LED so you got the feeling it was cold which added to the presentation, and they where using warm white LED's in there lighted display cases as well...

Those sound pretty sweet, there's a carport that's not been set up yet witht eh magic PIRs, it turns off as soon as movement stops, our stays on for five minutes... It occurs to me that the time needs to be shorter, more like thirty seconds, seems short but at 30 seconds most people will have been and gone, even if they stay most shoppers aren't still for that amount of time and PIR's are pretty sensitive... Another idea would be for closed fridges to have switches in the door like at home, since they only need to be on to see inside, the stuff in teh front row is illuminated just fine by the shop lights...

I think in a store the door switch is just asking the customer to open the door and hold it open, letting out the cold air, but going PIR motion and a short delay it'll get there attention as well, I can see kids going look mommy as they run up and down the freezer isle, ((( ya little thing's like this amuse kids to no end ))) and while there mother is yelling at them she might see something she likes and then she'll buy it ....

Hmm, that actually sounds better now that I think about it, in general it's hard to find a balance, the PIR is probably a better option but they'll use more energy on the other hand switch fridges could dent sales and also lose energy from people misusing them...

A good PIR should only use a fraction of a watt, radio shack used to sell one that chimed, I used it over the door so you know some one has come into the store and a nine volt battery would last half a year .... Yep I left the door open like you said in your Ible and personally I think customers liked the door being open and I liked the PIR chime.......

I meant that the lights would be on longer and more often, PIR energy usage is negligible for almost any application... Customers are attracted and welcomed by and open door, it's a very welcoming sign, especially on days when the weather is extreme, if you wear a coat for work on a cold day and leave the door open sales should be helped, simply because the shop also looks like shelter, making it more appealing to impulse buyers...

ronmaggi (author)killerjackalope2009-09-29

Here in SoCal I actually get mad at open doors. A/C is essential almost year round, and most malls are outdoors. I can feel the cool air pouring out of the open doors! Every time I walk up to my shop I have to un-prop the door, except on cool days. People give the "inviting" excuse, but here it is viewed as wasteful, not to mention hard on the equipment. If you "must" keep the doors open, consider a swamp cooler as they need to have open doors to work well.

I was speaking at a big conference the other day in a hotel and the bathrooms were a great setup, they turned off after a minute or two of non motion and every time I walked in and it was empty they were off, even if someone wasn't out the long, if you stood still they didn't turn off unless you could hide from the sensor which makes me think the system was a comparison one... Anyway i thought it was one of the best systems like this I've ever seen.

foxli (author)galadriel2008-11-03

That can simply be prevented by requiring a manager key to cancel anything. It sounds like a pain in the butt, but I worked in a big (and popular) supermarket, and it only very rarely interrupted the flow of checking out.

galadriel (author)foxli2008-11-04 had much more decisive customers than I did, then (when I worked a cash register so many eons ago). It seems like a third of the people who went through would have something they decided they didn't want, or would somtimes even just walk out after everything was rung up. If I'd had to wait for a manager each time, the manager would have had to stay by my elbow the whole shift.

ronmaggi (author)2009-09-29

My company stopped using plastic bags a long time ago. I would sometimes get people who complained, but I would just say "we don't have any artificial jellyfishes!" My customers are boaters so they understood.

A good name (author)2009-06-19

Nice instructable... it seems a bit cliche as far as CFLs, but quite a few of the others were Good... when ever I go up to the stores in our neighbourhood, I just bring my bike bags, but some employees there (The German woman who yells a lot, comes to mind) will just put everything in a bag anyways.

Thanks, well I suppose CFLs and other lower wattage lighting's a given, but it's worth mentioning anyway... There's a guy at my local shop, when you buy everything he won't put it in a bag, but if you make any move to pack it in either your own bag or one of theirs he snatches it away and packs a bag for you...

teamadam (author)2009-04-05

In South Africa the government has passed legislation whereby the shopper has to pay for the bags. And 9 times out of 10 people with single items dont take the bags. The main reason for this is to cut down on polution. Alot of our shops have introduced thicker fabric type reusable bags which cost alot more, But when you go to the supermarket you take them with so you dont have to buy more bags.

Derin (author)2009-01-17

The van in the photo is a Ford.

coolz (author)2008-06-22

mom uses plastic bags as trash bags...

killerjackalope (author)coolz2008-06-23

That's a bad idea, even with the biodegradable plastic bags, because they get put in a landfill and don't degrade....

Derin (author)killerjackalope2008-09-07

but reuse,reduce and recycle!
reuse:we reuse the grocery bags as trash bags
reduce:we reduce the bags ending up in landfills by not buying trash bags
Two R's out of 3 seems pretty good

killerjackalope (author)Derin2008-09-07

It's an OK idea but not the best solution to the issue, the degradable ones should not be put in landfills, they degrade faster above ground. The non degradable ones are recyclable to a good extent, linuxh4xor here at 'ibles made a way of casting plastic with them.

grd (author)killerjackalope2008-10-05

Biodegradable plastic bads or even cotton bags will biodegrade a negligible amount in a proper landfill (i.e. not dumped or fly tipped somewhere). Lots of effort goes in to making sure that what goes in to a landfill does not biodegrade so it doesn't produce flammable gases. People have been able to date the layers of landfills by looking at the dates on decades old newspapers.

killerjackalope (author)grd2008-10-05

Exactly, it's not particularly helpful to the whole environment thing... You'd think that allowing things to degrade and using the gases would be much more efficient, in business terms, reclaiming some of the energy used to move it all about...

grd (author)killerjackalope2008-10-05

There have been a few projects to harvest the gas from older landfills which may have been less well planned, but yes, you're right. It probably comes down to cost; to set it up to properly produce and harvest gas is much more expensive than the traditional method. That said, the more forward thinking councils are focussing on recycling and putting less into landfill in the first place. That's the way forward.

killerjackalope (author)grd2008-10-05

Aye, well there's a European initiative that fines places for landfilling after a reasonable date. I'm guessing they hope a combination of recycling and incineration will do... The pretty well made landfill here in belfast doesn't harvest huge amounts of gas but they make enough for what's best described as a patio heater on steroids every few hundred feet. It's only there to burn of gas but it serves as a handy coastline marker, a big chunk of the harbour is reclaimed land, either sitting on rubbish or lough dredgings...

netbuddy (author)2008-09-20

Note about "Bag for life" The cotton bag for life is not eco friendly as it is often made from cotton that has been cleaned in some fashion. The plastic Bag for life is also not as Eco friendly as it is made out to be. The last bag for life takes a 2 year bitter divorce case & settlement to dispose of and even then she still comes back to haunt you! Whilst CFL's are 80% Greener on energy, you can not just throw them in the waste, they have to be disposed of through a recycling plant that deals with the "TOXIC" components in these tubes. You can get "Industrial" CFL's and yes they cost more but designed to run longer. Your toilet... NEVER stuff a brick in it to lower the amount of water in it, the toilet has been designed to function with that "Head" of water in mind, if you want a "Lo-flo" toilet then go buy one, you really do not do the environment a favor by forcing a "Regular" toilet to function like a lo flo one. You will end up with things like blockages and have to call people out to "Unblock" the blockage. This happened to an apartment where one inconsiderate eco warrior on the floor above me did just this and the flat below me backed up and the clean up required some very nasty chemicals. It is all well and good to practice being Eco friendly but beware of the hidden costs to your actions, unless something HAS BEEN DESIGNED to be "Eco" DO NOT MODIFY IT! You can be having the opposite effect on the environment than you wish to have.

killerjackalope (author)netbuddy2008-09-20

unless something HAS BEEN DESIGNED to be "Eco" DO NOT MODIFY IT - Not the best thing to say on instructables...

The toilet thing is aimed specifically at older toilets, which tend to be effective even with heavily reduced flows, I personally prefer the idea of a brick than those little absorbent plasticky blocks which seem to get caught in the mechanism often enough to be an issue.

It depends where you get the cotton bag from really, shops like Co-Op are driving hard to truly outgreen other shops and do cotton bags that haven't been bleached, not perfect but it's better than the ones with bleaches and all kinds of rubbish used to make them.

Thankfully there are plenty of places to dispose of CFL's once they finish up, IKEA, Tesco's, local dumps have a small section for them.

netbuddy (author)killerjackalope2008-09-20

Excuse me but this info is based on fact. NEVER modify something that has not been designed to be ECO as you will impact the environment more by modifying something that has been designed in a certain way. This means your out dated toilet with a brick in the head is going to lower your water bill but also cause other environmental issues that you may not see but effect all around you like my Eco warrior neighbor did and causes an serious environmental and health issue with the ground floor flat spewing sewage into that apartment because his toilet was modified and the flush hadn't enough water to carry the waste to its final destination, the sewer but instead caused a blockage in the pipe which caused the ground floor to back up and spill out. By contrast, low-flow toilets are designed to run the water faster (more momentum) and thus carries same waste further with less water. This has also been on television about bricking your header tank. Good for you but bad for the environment. I am not trying to justify my comments but if you want to fly in the face of fact, you can argue with the water, sewage, local government bodies when your toilet causes thousands of pounds of damage that you can not see. The chemicals used in cleaning up this type of mess are more harmful to the environment than saving a liter or two in your toilet header tank. Thank you, much love. Bye Bye.

killerjackalope (author)netbuddy2008-09-20

Ok calm down, read.

I was specifically talking about toilets that have the extra push, older high cistern ones have some to spare, they will never be able to go down to the same amount of flow as a real low flow toilet but you can take a certain amount of the flow, if you were to only give the same amount of head as a proper low flow you'd be in deep trouble then but to a certain extent you can, at least here you can. Wouldn't try it in certain places, some of the continental countries in europe have completely different toilets that would never work that way.

I still prefer the low flow toilets because they work better and are still lower flow but many toilets of the older age have a lot of head to spare before they get in to trouble, obviously this is dependant on the type of toilet you have.

One more thing, I just thought of, it's quite possible that you already had lower flow toilets than us in the first place as we aren't charged for water usage here, we just have rates which cover utilities and amenities, electricity and gas excluded...

netbuddy (author)killerjackalope2008-09-20

Mine is a low flow type, it was put in by the local authority when the previous tenant decided to trash the place because he was evicted for non rent payment. I do not pay by meter but I am still billed for my water.

killerjackalope (author)netbuddy2008-09-20

A lot of houses here still have the older toilets that you could lose a housecat to... It occured to me that the fact it was in an apartment block may have been another cause of concern, in a house that's direct to sewer there aren't way too many blockages but there's some distance to travel in even a smaller block compared to the house... I always wondered about some of the designs in the plumbing for them though, a large central pipe seems like a good plan or four corner pipes, to utilize gravity as well but many have fairly convoluted and small systems...

condse19 (author)2008-07-24

You could use paper bags made from 100% recycled materials that are recyclable themselves. They even have gift boxes and tissue paper made from 100% recycled materials. You could also have bamboo display cases which are more sustainable than other wood.

killerjackalope (author)condse192008-07-24

Well you could but retailers are hard to change, that and eliminating about half of the bag usage in a small shop is easy, since most people are close by..

dsandds2003 (author)2008-06-29

Their is that funny thing about most receipts. If they have some sun exposure....they go blank. I ALWAYS get a receipt in case I have to return/exchange it. My old receipts are shredded and go in my blue (instructables) mulch bin along with potato peelings and other vegetable waste and grass clippings. However it is a very interesting Instructables

I knew that, I like playing with ways to change it... In a small shop or supermarket it's usually not too bad not to have a receipt because they can look them back up on the computer... for big purchases I get a receipt aswell...

FireBAT (author)2008-06-06

Judging from your "accent" and the photo, you're in Britain, Right? My wife and I visited from the States last September. I noticed that the bags at Sainsbury's are much thicker and stronger than here at our shops. The clerks at the Sain's in Paddington Station automatically bagged everything, so we wound up with 4 or 5. I'm STILL using them for my shopping, 9 months later. We also bought a huge Tesco bag in Scotland, which we use every week. Great Instructable - simple tips that aren't hard to do, but add up over time.

killerjackalope (author)FireBAT2008-06-06

Well most of the photos are from the web but yes and no to your question, I'm in northern Ireland, part of the UK, the bags are different because we get some shops using the chinese made ones and they're really thin in comparison, we have alot of plastic, bags for life, they're good for trips to the offie, they hhold alot more weight in comparison to the bags you get there...

Pkranger88 (author)2008-06-03

Good stuff, but I bought some of those CFL bulbs and they didn't last me half of what the regular bulbs did, costing me more money in the end. Plus low flow toilets have been shown to use more water in the end because people flush the toilet more times to get the job done. Adding a solar collector and prism for light will do much more for improving lighting efficiency during the day than those CFLs. Have you kept up on LED house lights. They're very expensive right now, but hopefully they'll come down. Think of it, powering an entire house full of lights with the equivalent of a car battery. Sweet.

Cfl's should last for years, literally, you may have a wiring problem... In the very old toilets with higher cisterns you can put a couple of bricks in and lower the flush dramatically and get the job done... My shop isn't really able to adapt to lighting it's a small one with an upstairs warehouse making natural lighting out of the question except for the front....

I thought so also about the wiring at first, but it's only an issue with the CFLs and if you read the labels, they say that they're life is based upon 4 hours a day for 5 years. I have regular bulbs that'll last much longer, though with more consumption. CFLs are very sesnsitive to heat and cold as I've found out. I use them in my garage because I'll run them continuously for hours and sometimes days. I've been working on some circuits for LED lights but getting a stable rectifier circuit and cooling system into a small enough package to be justified and reasonable is presenting a small challenge right now. As for the natural lighting, you can place mirrors at the front windows that reflect light to the ceiling of the shop increasing the ambient light. I've been in stores that only use artificial light in the evenings and on dark days. You just may have to be creative on getting the light in. Even Wal-Mart has sometimes turned off half of its lights and let the natural light. Think of the money they saved doing that. As for the toilets, I think the most effective aspect is how the water flows into it rather than the volume it flows. A little water with higher pressure and or more of a vortex characteristic will outperform a high volume flow that simply drains with a small vortex. I've even thought it would be cool to develop an "air ram" similar to the water rams that the Amish use to such the toilet dry when you flush.

Well I suppose that the toilets one is very efffective in my work because we have old style toilets that go overkill to start with, high cistern ones are perfect for it, in my old house we had one with a cistern around seven feet up and with the majority of the tank filler with bricks (handy and don't float) it still never needed brushed... You have a great point about the toilets though... Really they work best in works places with shift work, where onsies are the majority of the workload for the toilet...

dan moulton (author)2008-06-03

Good work. plastic bags suck. I have converted to using re-usable sacks and literally feel guilty when i don't take them with me. I try to always leave my shopping bags in the car boot so i have em ready.

if you're in a supemarket or whatever just take the basket out with you and unload into the car... I cycle everywhere and always have a rucksack so I don't really have to think about it, I only take bags If I don't have a couple I keep in my side pocket, either for frozen stuff or extra carrying...

Lftndbt (author)2008-06-03

Nice stuff. Glad to see someone else realised the value of going green at work! ;)

killerjackalope (author)Lftndbt2008-06-03

I'm a little bemused by the fact that many are ignoring this, especially since there are so many on the site that are apparently fighting the green part, hell this would work if you went down to the shop and had a word with someone... I'm ranting a bit and I apologize, sometimes I fell that people are a bit farcical about being more eco-friendly... A few lightbulbs is the same as the odd hail mary, it's a way of feeling secure for green heaven when it's farce... (I'm not religious but green-heaven sounds cool.

Lftndbt (author)killerjackalope2008-06-03

I'm just lucky my workplace if very eco-friendly and are more than aware of the monetary gains that can be involved. I must update my "Going green at work" 'ible. We have had another few eco improvements. Have you had the chance to view it? I really can't believe i'm use to the waterless urinal now. :)

killerjackalope (author)Lftndbt2008-06-03

I had actually missed your going green at work 'ible completely, though most of the points are actually very different, especially since ours is a late open corner shop, for your compactor point we do the same thing except ours is a small single ram compactor that lifts up to put a big bag underneath before loading, these can be used with recycling companies aswell, they're just as happy to take them since it's well compacted and only cardboard. i like the way big and little shops are now covered and between the two most business types...

About This Instructable




Bio: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
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