Social Responsibility Writer's Prize 2007 - School Entry - Second Prize

Monika Holmwood - Seymour College

Sport Ecologique

M.Holmwood - CEO
E. Holmwood - Administration
Finance, Production.
209 Port Rush Rd Burnside
SA 5064
(08)8338 2258

Executive Report 2007 - Sport Ecologique

Sport Ecologique is a partnership business established in 2006 by my brother and I. Sport Ecologique is a sports and lifestyle store located in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide, dedicated not only to providing quality sporting equipment, but to promoting social equity and environmental awareness. Our prices are no higher than our competitors. No other sports store in Australia has a complete environmental focus; like Sport Ecologique. When we first established ourselves, we initially stocked well-known brands, along with a small range of environmental brands. Surprisingly, all our Patagonia fleeces (made out of recycled plastic soda bottles), American Apparel organic cotton singlets and Ciel eco-friendly t-shirts sold out on launch day .1 We found that our older clients were prepared to pay more for sporting equipment to help the environment and those on low incomes. We found that youth purchased goods at Sport Ecologique because they are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment and being eco-aware is seen positively by peers.

The www.sportecologique.com.au" website was then created to target 15-30 year olds, as the older demographic were already shopping at Sport Ecologique. The newly created online shop has been extremely popular. The Sport Ecologique website has four sections, including the Green Operation section, where our environmental campaigns can be viewed.

We began to stock environmental deodorants and sunscreen after customers suggested it on our surveys. We now stock Pitrok 2 roll on and spray on deodorants which are CFC free and 100% natural, made from Ammon Alum which is derived from Bauxite Ores. We sell the only Eco-Friendly Sunscreen in the world that is both waterproof and harmless to water quality and sea-animals. As the year progressed, we slowly stocked more environmental products, and less mainstream sports products. Sport Ecologique is now stocking 100% eco and socio-friendly brands that meet the strict industry guidelines.

The first practice that Sport Ecologique implemented to benefit the local community was the "Shoe Shuffle," where customers would receive a 20% discount of their next pair of shoes when they brought in old pairs in reasonable condition. We collect the old shoes and deliver them to the Salvation Army3 where they are distributed to needy families and individuals. Sport Ecologique still makes a profit from the sale of new shoes to the client, even with a 20% discount. The "Shoe Shuffle" benefits our customers, the needy, and the environment (recycling decreases landfill). We donate the shoes that are too old to be re-worn to Recycle Works who use the soles to make tennis courts and playground flooring.

The Sport Ecologique store was designed with the environment in mind. Though we were limited by the pre-existing building, we were able to build deeper eves at a minimal cost, reducing heat loss and gain in the store during cold and hot days. We installed energy efficient ceiling fans, and double glazed glass panels. We have no need for air-conditioning or heating: no client has ever complained about the ambient conditions. We installed energy saving fluorescent light bulbs that use only 40% of the energy of a conventional bulb. The decorative light shades were made out of recycled computer parts that would have otherwise been landfill. We have a group of regular customers whom we know by name, who will spend time in Sport Ecologique reading the environmental strategies that we have around the store.

Toward the end of the year we realised that our customers often did not want the shoe boxes their shoes come in. This lead to our staff asking customers if they want their shoe boxes. Unwanted shoe boxes are either recycled or donated to Samaritan's Purse .4 Samaritan's Purse use the shoe boxes to put presents in that they send worldwide to the neediest of children.

Initially, it was my brother and I who ensured the company maintained its environmental ethos. We found this easy as we are both interested in helping the environment, and have volunteered for Trees for Life and Greenpeace for several years. As Sport Ecologique grew rapidly, we were struggling to cope by ourselves, so over the twelve month period, we gradually employed staff, and now have three full time workers, and four casuals. Our employees all possess environment and sporting expertise, as our clients often demand extensive information about products. Our staff benefit from our ethos: Most our casual staff study various environmental courses at university.

Sport Ecologique has a zero tolerance for plastic bags, and has Green bags available for purchase at the counter, or people can bring their own. The large "Plastic Bag Free Zone" sign on the entrance doors establishes the ethos of Sport Ecologique. We support several environmental organisations (RSPCA, Wildlife Warriors, and Greenpeace) by allowing donation tins to be placed free of charge on our circulation desks.

Each month, Sport Ecologique records our social and environmental impact for that period of four weeks. The information is compiled and displayed at the entrance so that clients can see how many plastic bags they saved, the amount of landfill they prevented, and the number of children that now have shoes.

This year we are planning to offer sporting and adventure holiday packages that not only give our customers a break, but 'give the world a break' as well. We are particularly looking into local destinations such as Cooper Creek Wilderness Resort, Yerlverton Brook Luxury Ecolodge, and Tasmanian Eco-Safaris 5. Travel to local destinations produces significant less carbon dioxide emissions than overseas travel, and will provide clients with appreciation of Australia's unique environment.

In the next twelve months, Sport Ecologique is working towards gradually increasing the size and amount of its environmental and social campaigns. We have decided to continue to establish ourselves at our current premises before opening a new store within the next 24 months. Our society rightfully continues to be worries about the state of the environment: Sport Ecologique will continue to be there to help people make a difference.

Bibliography

  1. Cooler Magazine, Deutsche Press, Summer Issue 2006, page 34-35
  2. The Australian, 12/2/2007, environmentally friendly Shopping, page 10
  3. The Salvation Army (http://www.salvos.org.au) , accessed 4/5/07
  4. Samaritan's Purse (http://www.samaratinspurse.org/OCC_PackAShoeBox.asp) accessed 3/5/07
  5. Travel+Leisure magazine, Eco-Retreats, November 2006

 

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