Sustainable retail is not only linked to green production methods or ecological materials. The way an item is purchased also influences the sustainability process of the future of retail. What needs to change in retail and what are promising initiatives? Willa Stoutenbeek sat down with various experts in the field of green services such as vintage and rental. Jutka Volkerts of vintage store Jutka & Riska, Carla Peters of tableware label The Table, photographer Lotte van Raalte and Justin Pariag of de Bijenkorf talk about the different developments in the future of sustainable shopping.
Increasingly, alternative ways of shopping are becoming more popular, such as rental, vintage or exchanging to extend the life of products. Companies are adapting their business models to this and create sustainable relationships with customers, brands and companies. Head of sustainable business at de Bijenkorf Justin Pariag explains how this sustainable transition is being set in motion. “We have many goals within de Bijenkorf when it comes to sustainability, such as working exclusively with more sustainable brands by 2025. We consider our brands our partners and want to work with them so we can help and learn from each other.”
The importance of dialogue
It is precisely through this dialogue that greenwashing is being avoided, according to Justin. “Through the use of independent benchmarks, we can analyze where brands stand, so we can see how much progress we are making together. With our sustainability strategy ‘the future is green’ we want to inspire customers, brands and people to make better choices.”
Photographer Lotte van Raalte shot the campaign ‘the future is green’ for de Bijenkorf. She, too, underlines the importance of dialogue in the sustainable transition. “As a fashion photographer, I ask a lot of questions before I start a collaboration. These conversations are necessary and valuable because in this way the true long-term vision becomes clear. With this campaign I hope to inspire and invite people to be part of change and this dialogue.” A number of Lotte’s works are now being sold at de Bijenkorf to support the Dutch Forestry Commission.
The combination of vintage and new
In addition to the retail market, brands themselves are also implementing sustainability strategies. Carla Peters started sustainable tableware brand The Table from an obvious ambition to be fully sustainable. “We make products that you want to use and can use throughout your life. We do this by responsibly producing new designs and re-selling quality vintage products for a lovely evening at the dinner table.”
The combination of vintage and new is also an important element at fashion and vintage store Jutka & Riska, which was founded sixteen years ago by Jutka Volkerts. After opening three branches, she is now working with de Bijenkorf to incorporate vintage items into their regular offer. Jutka: “Some people find it difficult to buy second-hand. I want to show that it can be done differently. It is a challenge because 80% of what I find is not suitable. But it is about that 20% where you find the really unique pieces. You have to be patient as a saint, but the result will be something very unique.”
A sustainable experience
One of the fastest growing sustainability initiatives within retail and for brands is the rental service. The Table worked with de Bijenkorf on a new initiative to make this a reality. “We created three different themes or spheres that can be rented for a certain period of time. We give our customers the whole experience – from the tablewear and table linen to the candles and a playlist. Afterwards all the items can be simply returned, and we will even do the dishes. In this way you never have to buy a brand new set of tableware for just one dinner, but rather enjoy it during this one special moment.”