Last Updated Nov 30, 2010 6:35 PM EST
By making it easier to identify and purchase environmentally friendly products, Office Depot is giving shoppers a better chance to take a green stand at a time when its big competitors are already establishing and reinforcing their own eco-friendly cred.
Office Depot is launching a multi-pronged environmental initiative under the theme of Grow Greener, offering thousands of eco-preferable office products and services, as well as special offers aimed at small and medium businesses.
Office Depot has made a significant investment in green operations within its own company. It became a member of the United States Green Building Council in 2007. The organization awards Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification based on standards of environmentally friendliness for all or part of a facility. In 2008, Office Depot gained Gold LEED certification -- an elevated standard that requires green features beyond the basic level -- for a store in Austin, Texas.
LEED certification isn't easy to get and can be costly to achieve, but it does give retailers a lot of experience in creating environmentally friendly systems they can transfer into other new and renovated stores where conditions make sense. And, to follow upon that initial effort, Office Depot intends to have all retail stores LEED "commercial-interiors" certified starting in June.
So, Office Depot has more than a cursory understanding of environmentally sound practices it can bring to the initiative to help its customers become greener. Among other things, the retailer has created a new website. The site encourages customers to submit ideas about making their business environmentally friendly, and, to provide them with some warm and fuzzy motivation, Office Depot will plant a tree for every idea submitted -- with the goal of placing 4,000 trees by the end of May.
But tree planting and even the website are only the beginning of Office Depot's plan to give its customers a green edge. Among the rest:
- Facebook. The retailer has expanded its Facebook page to highlight its Grow Greener theme, with environmentally friendly ideas and pledges including one that ties in with Office Depot's NASCAR sponsorship.
- Products. The company is highlighting an assortment of 6,500 eco-preferable office products on officedepotgrowgreener.com that can save resources and energy while reducing use of harsh chemicals.
- Deals. Office Depot is establishing a range of discounts including special downloadable coupons available on the new website that discount environmentally friendly products.
- Trade-Ins. A new Tech Trade-In promotion provides cash for old technology with the intent of collecting 400 tons of electronics in recognition of Earth Day's 40th anniversary. Additionally, customers can receive a $3 credit in Office Depot's Worklife Rewards loyalty program by recycling their ink and toner cartridges.