Reduce Reuse Recycle And Retail

September 17, 2007
Text Size:

LANSING — Reduce, reuse, recycle — and retail?

The Michigan Retailers Association is trying to boost interest among retailers in environmentally friendly practices with a new "Greentailers" recognition at its Michigan Retailer of the Year luncheon in October. Sept. 28 is the deadline to submit entry forms, available online at or by calling Laura Adkins at (800) 366-3699.

"It's difficult to account for why retail would be behind the curve in this," said Amy Buttery, staff writer for the MRA. "Retailers struggle with a lot of issues, and this hasn't risen to the level it has, say, in manufacturing."

At Environ Auto Plus, a new auto repair shop between Holland and Zeeland, owner Michael Beukema is bringing a green sensibility to a retail business that might be considered the antithesis of the environmental movement.

"Eighty percent of the trash we produce here is recycled," Beukema said. "Fluids are properly recycled and disposed of. Oil filters are split, the paper inside is recycled and the oil is disposed of properly. The building has in-floor heating to be more efficient. Invoices — a lot of customers choose e-mail so we don't print much around here. We have no incandescent lighting; it's all compact fluorescent or fluorescent."

He rebuilds parts whenever possible. He also participates in Consumers Energy's Green Generation program, paying "pennies a day" extra to ensure the amount of electricity he uses comes from renewable resources such as wind power.

Beukema, 38, of Holland, the sole employee of the four-month-old enterprise at

10696 Chicago Drive
, fixes all types of cars but specializes in Toyota, Lexus, Scion and hybrids. He said he intends to convert a regular car into one that runs on electricity for in-town travel and plans to become expert at repairing whatever alternative fuel vehicles the automakers bring to the market.

"I've had lots of very positive feedback from customers," he said.

Buttery said retailers' green steps might include energy savings when constructing their own buildings or their use of recycled shopping bags. She cited Starbucks, Best Buy and Target for their green measures. She said the retail industry is working with the U.S. Green Building Council, which oversees the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program, to alter their rules so new stores can be measured against already-certified prototype stores.

"In every industry, including retail, there are some innovative, responsible corporate citizens who take these things very seriously. If others jump on the bandwagon, as long as they're doing it in a real way, that's OK," Buttery said.     

Recent Articles by Elizabeth Slowik

Editor's Picks

Comments powered by Disqus