In aspiring to become a more environmentally friendly business, it’s time to start thinking about real, sustainable practices that you can apply to your operation. By going green, you can not only can save money on frivolous expenses such as extra paper, bags and fancy packaging, but perhaps even increase sales by attracting a new clientele of environmentally conscious shoppers, as well as by using reusable green products to advertise your name.
And let’s face facts: Conscientious shoppers today will feel a whole lot better about purchasing products from an environmentally friendly supplier. Psychologically, your greener packaging and labelling will also convey a feeling to your buyers that your products are also more healthful and nutritious.
Here are a few steps you can take to make your bakery a greener place to shop:
1. Use corn-based packaging for plastic containers
Make the switch from petroleum-based packaging to corn-based products (PLA), which are biodegradable. Corn-based plastic containers, forks, knives, plates, cups, etc., break down easily, and so are considered more environmentally friendly, as most cities still do not recycle plastic containers.
2. Create a recyclable cloth bag
Design your own recyclable cloth bag that is clearly branded with your logo. This will ensure free advertising to your operation, as your customers will not only use your bag when shopping at your store, but also walking down the street and into other stores. Sell your bag for a reasonable amount, and as an added incentive for customers to purchase the bag, throw in a free loaf of bread or half a dozen cupcakes when someone buys a bag.
3. Sell plastic storage containers
You can sell environmentally friendly plastic carrying cases made with PLA plastics and branded with your logo. The carrying cases should have handles and a cover, and be made to fit standard sizes of cakes, cupcakes, muffins, breads and other products. Customers can use them not only for purchasing items at your store, but also as a practical storage system to use in their homes, or for carrying their baked goods to social occasions. You again receive added exposure, as they will bring your brand name into other people’s homes.
4. Encourage customers to bring their own containers
Offer a small discount to customers who bring in their own bags, boxes or containers to take your products home, and use this discount as another incentive for your customers to purchase more products.
5. Use natural products
Instead of using regular ribbon for cake boxes, or tie twists or elastics for plastic or cellophane bags, consider using natural products like raffia or eco-ribbon to tie up your products. By tying a piece of raffia to your products, you will also convey a sense of homegrown earthiness and European style, and add a touch of elegance to your products.
6. Attach a handmade or hand-printed label
To create a more organic, homemade feel for your products, consider creating labels by hand. Use sturdy, recycled paper cut into label sizes and handwrite – in clear and concise penmanship – the information and prices of your products. Use a hole-punch to punch a hole in the corner of the label, string a piece of raffia or eco-ribbon through it, and tie it to your bags of breads and other baked goods.
7. Use stickers or labels for branding
Instead of spending extra money on costly fancy paper bags and boxes, consider getting a roll of stickers and labels printed with your branding and affixing them to generic recycled bags and boxes. You can also use these stickers and labels on your gift baskets.
8. Print all menus on recycled paper
Make sure any paper products that you have in your bakery – including menus, flyers, recipe handouts, tent cards or other point-of-sales materials – are all printed on recycled paper. You should also have a clearly mapped out recycling program for recyclable products, green bin for compost and small trash bin for actual garbage for customers to throw out their trash. Use pictures and signs to make sure customers know into which bin they should throw waste.
9. Research what you buy
Ensure your printer has a chain-of-custody certification, which ensures that the printing company has all the proper structures and processes for you to be able to print certifications and logos for your packaging and labels to give your store eco credibility.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping food service, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for more than 25 years. She provides innovative food and retail merchandising programs, interior design, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, e-mail
, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com
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