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Helping the Planet on Earth Day and Beyond

On April 22, people will celebrate Earth Day in unique ways, and independent home improvement stores are getting in on the action.

Many businesses are hosting events or raising awareness around the holiday in other ways, but several stores have Earth care as part of their mission to provide education on green practices and eco-friendly product options for customers all year long.

Hardware Retailing spoke with three retailers across the country to learn how their businesses play a part in protecting the planet on Earth Day and beyond.

This year, Cole Hardware in San Francisco is celebrating its 10th annual Earth Day Inventory, which details all of the ways the business strives to help keep the community green.

The Hardware Store in Sparta, New Jersey, will celebrate Earth Day the day after the holiday by inviting customers to bring paper documents they need to get shredded and recycled and also offering a closer look at natural ways to garden with earth-friendly products.

Greenwood Hardware in Seattle isn’t hosting an event specifically for Earth Day, but the store is known in its community as a green-friendly location where earth-friendly goods are always available.

Earth Day: Encouraging a Greener World

On April 23, The Hardware Store in Sparta, New Jersey, will be hosting its first-ever Earth Day event, and according to owner Roberta Kelly, the idea went over so well that the town of Sparta is helping out as a sponsor.

Green products like these fertilizers are alternatives for green thumbs who want to be green.
Green products like these fertilizers are alternatives for gardeners who want to be green.

“I decided I wanted to do something in the community for Earth Day,” Kelly says. “We are going to have a paper shredding event, which will cost attendees $6 per brown bag. All of the proceeds will go to Project Self Sufficiency, which is a community organization that helps people get back into the workplace.”

In addition to recycling and giving to a local charity, the store will host a demonstration on how to replenish the earth and plant gardens that are deer resistant using earth-friendly products.

A Green Lifestyle Expert

April 22 will be no different at Greenwood Hardware in Seattle than any other Friday, according to owner and president Michael Radice. However, he believes the holiday is important because it brings awareness to to people who likely need the reminder.

“There are some areas of the country that get it and Earth Day is every day to them, which is the case in Seattle,” Radice says. “However, there are other areas that don’t get it and hopefully Earth Day helps get them aware and moving in a green direction.”

At Greenwood Hardware, recycling batteries is one way they strive to keep the community green.
At Greenwood Hardware, recycling batteries is one way they strive to keep the community green.

Radice has owned Greenwood Hardware since 1999 and has been focusing on offering green products, particularly in the lawn and garden category. He has prior experience as a green gardener.

“We just started adding green products,” Radice says. “We did the first green composts and fertilizers and the market for it took off. Now we sell approximately 10,000 pounds of compost a year. The last thing we branched out and added is green household and home items, like cleaners.”

With 700 to 800 SKUs that are green and environmentally friendly, the store has plenty to offer. To find success selling these products, Radice says knowledgeable employees can make the ultimate difference.

“The best way to promote green is by having employees knowledgeable in the items available,” he says. “If a customer asks where our lawn fertilizer is, they always take them to the green options first.”

In addition to offering green products and product knowledge, Greenwood Hardware also provides an added service to the community by acting as a site to donate and recycle everyday goods.

The store invites customers to bring in fluorescent bulbs for recycling. Additionally, small electronic and rechargeable batteries are deposited into the Call2Recyle box inside the store. The store has recycled more than 12,000 pounds of batteries total, keeping chemicals from the batteries from leaking into the ground.

Earth-Friendly Retailer Stands Out

This year marks the 10th year that Cole Hardware tracks its Earth Day Inventory, according to the store’s marketing coordinator Julia Strzesieski.

Signage that calls out green options is another way to help consumers make more conscious shopping decisions.
Signage that calls out green options is another way to help consumers make more conscious shopping decisions.

“Since our stores are certified Green Businesses with the San Francisco Department of the Environment, there are certain things we have to do to maintain that certification,” Strzesieski says. “Our Earth Day Inventory is a chance to go through each year and hopefully add another way we’re helping the environment to our list.”

The store is known for the many the ways it helps the community stay green through various recycling efforts.

“We take back CFLs, fluorescent tubes and we are also partners with a PaintCare, which collects water based and oil based paints,” she says. “We even have a recycling program for Brita water filters.”

In addition to offering consumers ways to recycle everyday items in the store, Cole Hardware also participates in a program called Our Water, Our World. The business has labels on products that are better for the environment to help consumers make informed decisions.

Cole Hardware practices what it preaches.

“When we became a green business, we had to change our behavior,” Strzesieski says. “You have to make it easy because by nature people tend to be lazy. In our break rooms and in the bathrooms, we have compost bins for the compostable food and paper towels.”

As part of becoming green certified, the business got rid of its trash dumpster and replaced it with a recycling bin. The change worried the staff at first but ended up cutting down on trash and encouraged everyone to recycle properly.

“We like to think that every day is Earth Day,” Strzesieski says. “We try to emphasize this in our advertising and our newsletter, showing that we have earth friendly practices and products we offer. I think if businesses don’t support green causes, who else will? Someone calls us almost every day to ask where they can recycle something, so it’s great that they see us as a resource.”

About Renee Changnon

Renee Changnon is the retail outreach coordinator for NRHA. She meets with retailers in their stores and at industry events and introduces them to the services NRHA provides. Renee previously worked as a member of the NRHA communications team. She earned a degree in visual journalism from Illinois State University, where she served as the features editor for the school newspaper. After college, she implemented marketing and promotions initiatives at Jimmy John’s franchise locations across the country. She enjoys exploring books with her book club, Netflix marathons and hosting goat yoga at her apartment complex. Renee Changnon 317-275-9442 rchangnon@nrha.org

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