Case Study: How Flora & Fauna Leads the Way for Sustainability

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 07 Dec 2021

Sustainability is in the DNA of everything Flora & Fauna do, so it should come as no surprise that the retailer has firmly secured itself a spot in the Power Retail Sustainability Index.

For over seven years, Flora & Fauna has gone from strength to strength in its eco-efforts and continues to inspire other retailers to follow suit. Flora & Fauna was established by Julie Mathers in 2014, with a pursuit to help everyone make better choices. The business only sells vegan, ethically-sourced, cruelty-free and low impact products for its consumers. From skincare to baby and pet products, the retailer offers over 9,000 products from more than 300 brands on its platform.

Working with the local community, the retailer aims to drive change. From the eco-friendly packaging of every online order to the pens the team uses in the office, there is no stone left unturned.

Flora & Fauna is leading the way for sustainability in Australia, and its ‘single most important value’ is to be kind. “When we look at being kind we look at our Planet, Animals, and People,” its mission statement reads. As a B Corp Certified business, the retailer works with Greenfleet, Sea Shepherd and One Tree Planted, businesses that regenerate forests across Australia and worldwide, and protect marine wildlife. But that’s not all. Every year since its inception, the retailer has worked towards a new goal and set new milestones to secure a better future for the planet.

In 2016, Flora & Fauna moved to plastic-free shipping packaging, saving over 30 tonnes of plastic.

The business also launched its own recycling program, which has been a ‘huge success’ for both the retailer and the planet. “We have a very active recycling program, and recently we have started recycling blister packs and bread tags along with beauty packaging,” says Mathers. “This has been a huge success in terms of us receiving a lot of recycling and preventing it from entering landfills!”

In 2017, Flora & Fauna became one of the first Australian retailers to achieve a B Corp Certification, receiving a score of 87 in its first certification. That score has only increased since, now at an industry-leading result of 91, which Flora & Fauna received in May 2021. All orders have been carbon offset since June 2019, the same time the retailer opened its first physical store in the North Rocks, Sydney.

In July 2020, Flora & Fauna launched the Take It Back initiative, to reduce plastic packaging used in shipping orders. Working with suppliers, Flora & Fauna prevents the use of any unnecessary plastic packaging and urges them to focus on eco-friendly alternatives. This means that if Flora & Fauna are unhappy with the packaging they receive, they send it back to the supplier if they aren’t seeing any improvements. On the flipside, they encourage and celebrate the suppliers that are doing the right thing and taking steps to drive change.

Flora & Fauna turned Black Friday into Green Friday last year. Working with Greenfleet, the retailer carbon offset the customer’s individual carbon emissions for the day, which roughly equates to about 63kgs of Co2-e for every order.

The drive for sustainable change runs deep within the veins of the company, from the warehouse to the customer’s doorstep, and even inside the office. “It doesn’t need to be huge things,” says Mathers on sustainable practices. Her team have even swapped out their regular pens for Eco Pens, which are made from carbon-neutral materials and have saved over 25,000 pens from entering landfills.

Flora & Fauna isn’t stopping here. The retailer has set multiple targets that they intend to achieve before 2024, including the commitment to becoming Carbon Negative by the end of 2021. Furthermore, the team has pledged to reduce employment inequality, pledging 18 percent of their employees to be represented by people with disabilities by the end of 2021. By 2022, Flora & Fauna aims to close the loop on all of its waste, and make its warehouse operations completely plastic-free by 2024.

“We’ve been on this journey for a long time so we’re further cementing what we’re doing,” Mathers tells Power Retail. “We’re going to keep pushing boundaries and really listening to our customers and community.”

Mathers encourages her entire team to inspire this message, and knows that change starts at the top. She is a firm believer that the CEO needs to drive change, inspire others and instil the importance of sustainability into their everyday practices. But it’s not just her team that she hopes to inspire, it’s other businesses too. “We need to drive change as retailers – it’s what our customers want and it’s what our planet needs,” says Julie Mathers. “There is absolutely an expectation that all businesses think about their impact and are doing something about it.”

She tells Power Retail that she has seen a ‘greater focus’ on the topic of sustainability in retail, specifically with earth-conscious products, and businesses examining the impact of their operations and the emissions they create. “The conversation is constantly changing and is becoming more common at all levels in an organisation – it’s regularly discussed at the board level and is becoming a strategic pillar for many retailers,” she says.

Retailers in Australia, and worldwide, need to make sustainability a priority in 2022 and beyond if they haven’t already started doing so. Does your online business drive purpose over profit? Are you working towards a positive impact? We want to hear from you! Submit your business for the Power Retail Sustainability Index today!

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