November 10, 2011

To Be or Not to Be...Green

In the retail sector, the amount of things to consider when going “green" is well, unthinkable. From production to shipping to brick and mortar operations to actual consumption, there are countless approaches to utilizing eco-friendly tactics. For the next generation of retailers, sustainable practices are going to top the list, as not only consumers, but the world itself demands change and a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

Here at MBF Trend Consulting, we are firm believers in environmental awareness and our responsibility to preserve the world we live in. Just like anything else, what is education without experimentation? While we understand the industry is still rapidly adjusting, today we would like to highlight some brands doing it right and which ones are still in the learning process.

photo via yad!

Marks & Spencer
With an objective to become the world’s most sustainable retailer by 2015, Marks & Spencer is definitely in route. Recently the brand launched its 2012 M&S Sustainable Retailing Challenge, which offers MBA students from around the world the opportunity to pitch their eco-friendly ideas while competing for a cash prize and most importantly, a chance to increase the brand’s sustainability strategies. Not only is the brand trying to get consumers involved but is also on a mission to re-evaluate its packaging strategies as it implements the Packaging Impact Quick Evaluation Tool. What used to take months, can now be done in under 25 minutes as the brand can quickly assess how packaging impacts affect its design process saving energy, time, resources, and money. We look forward to what the UK based retailer has in store for us next!

Uslu Airlines
We've discussed the nail brand many times before, but we just can't help ourselves as it yet again releases another groundbreaking product and this time it's even eco-friendly! While most nail polish removers contain acetone or other harmful substances, Bio, is a new water based product that "penetrates nail polish." While the product doesn't work as quickly as normal nail polish remover, it does get the job done and in a much less toxic way. We feel it's definitely worth the wait!

photo via Monkee Genes

Certified by the strict demands of the Soil Association, Monkee Genes is a fair trade organic denim line. The brand's motto: "no slave or child labor, blood, sweat, or tears." With a range of different cuts and styles, the label is ethical, trendy, and affordable at under $100 USD. Be sure to keep an eye out to see how these "genes" evolve!

photo via

Stella McCartney
Well Stella definitely has gotten her groove back as she releases a new eco-friendly sunglass collection this spring. Made of more than 50% natural and renewable materials, the shades are composed of bio-injected plastic or acetate plastic. Either way, both use minimal pesticides, water, and petroleum. McCartney was quoted saying, "The greatest challenge was the amount of time that was spent on research and testing to get the best quality product possible with the highest performance in terms of resistance, while still maintaining the style and finish we always try to achieve." With a dedication like that, these shades are sure to keep you cool this spring!

photo via

Levi's is another denim label dedicated to improving it's eco-friendly procedures. Not only has the brand worked toward water efficiency and conserving cotton cultivation after severe flooding last year, but now it is ready to introduce stone washed denim that is smoothed by rocks and uses absolutely no water in the process. Keeping with this theme, all tags encourage denim wearers to wash less, in cold water, or simply not at all. The brand advises that putting jeans in the freezer kills more odor causing germs than in the wash. We predict that this "waterless" element will be the next trend to hit the market.

photo via

Meanwhile as so many retailers have made significant progress in the sustainable sector, we have to remember that the name of the game is "trial and error" so the occasional blunder is unavoidable. Greenpeace, an environmental organization, is calling out 14 global companies who are supposedly discharging harmful chemicals into the atmosphere during manufacturing. These brands include everyone from Abercrombie & Fitch to Nike, Puma, H&M, Ralph Lauren, Adidas, and even Uniqlo, among others who many are coincidentally enough members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The organization's Dirty Laundry Report, shows that these brands are responsible for releasing hazardous substances into waterways across the globe. Water is a limited resource just like anything else so these brands need to adapt soon and eliminate the emission of dangerous toxins into the environment. We have to know what's wrong to know what's right, right?

While some brands have successfully begun to adapt to the increased demand for more sustainable methods, many are still exposing the world to hazardous mechanisms in an effort to maximize profits or simply out of mere carelessness. While it is a learning process, actions speak louder than words. In the near future, we hope to see more retailers take action and really get out there and make a difference.

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