Going green: A sustainable shift towards responsible retail

The retail sector is one of the biggest contributors to environmental impact – so what is it doing to reduce its carbon footprint and embrace more eco-friendly practices? 

As the world grapples with the growing challenges posed by climate change and other environmental issues, industries are increasingly recognising their role in shaping a more sustainable future. 

One solution that’s emerging in the retail sector is the adoption of green leasing – a mutually beneficial approach for retailers and landlords that allows for sustainable practices and reduces environmental impact. 

Green leasing goes beyond standard lease terms. A green lease includes terms that foster energy efficiency, waste reduction and sustainable building practices. It holds both retailers and landlords accountable for their environmental impact, while encouraging cooperation to achieve common green goals.

At the V&A, our ethos of responsible business practice and sustainability reverberates to influence our tenants and ultimately, visitors to our neighbourhood. We’re aware that the responsibility starts with us, and we’ve been on a journey in driving the possibilities of sustainable practice with our tenants.

Here, we meet two V&A tenants who have sustainability at the heart of their businesses, and then take a look at some of the key global trends in green leasing today.

A ‘less is more’ approach to sustainability 

Empowering local communities to make fewer products, but better – that’s the philosophy behind Research Unit, the sustainable fashion brand based at The Watershed at the V&A. 

Husband-and-wife team Chad and Erin-Lee Petersen work with communities across Cape Town, from Hanover Park to Khayelitsha, employing women who are highly skilled machinists, seamstresses and garment tailors to create superior quality, sustainable and thoughtfully designed products that last a long time – some of the fabrics used can last for up to 20 years!

In the words of the founding duo: “We believe one of the best ways to be sustainable is to give back to our community, to keep the industry and skills within it alive and our economy thriving. Our pieces are never mass produced, but rather made by local women from their homes, in small batches to reduce waste. In fact, every piece of fabric is used – we even make our packaging with leftover fabric.”

Visit Research Unit at The Watershed or check out their collections online. You might just find yourself a one-of-a-kind piece to treasure for years to come.