Finding green, and within easy reach

Published June 26, 2022, 11:42 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng

To the average consumer, buying ‘green’, eco-friendly products has often been a conscious, dedicated choice. In fact, if we’re talking food products and groceries, the prevailing assumption is that descriptors such as organic, all-natural, and free-range imply that the items are pricier, more expensive. So it’s no wonder that these same consumers will often equate green retail products as something elitist, or reserved for the higher end of the consumer market.

At the SM Green Finds launch (L-R) Koleen D. Palaganas, Group Head and VP, SM Sustainability Office; Tim Daniels, Consultant for Investor Relations and Sustainability, SM Investments; Catherine S. Ileto, VP for Corporate Communications, SM Retail; Ponciano C. Manalo, Jr., President, SM Retail; Mara Sy Coson, Vice President, SM Retail; Luis Lava, VP for Workplace and Administration, SM Retail; Grace F. Magno, VP for Corporate Marketing, SM Supermalls and Miguel A. Mercado, VP Head of Corporate Communications, SM Investments.

And this is precisely why I’m very happy with SM Retail’s Green Finds. Tied up with the bigger, corporate-wide SM Green Movement initiative, Green Finds debunks all the preconceived notions mentioned above, and demonstrates how going Retail Green is an easy, convenient, and affordable step; as so many vendors, retail brands, and local MSME’s involved in the SM supply chain, are now offering SKUs that recognize Sustainability and Eco-Friendly as part of their brand equity. It makes doing our small bit for the future of our environment that much easier, and something that can be sustained.

SM, along with their supplier partners, avow that with the SM Green Finds initiative, everyday products that are better for the planet and for you are within easy reach. All one has to do is look for the Green Finds badge in the various selling pads within the SM Stores. The badge is the symbol that the product is eco-friendly, made from natural and/or local ingredients, and supports local communities. The badge is tied up with promoting the well-being of our communities, and in a bigger sense, our planet.

Green Finds at the SM Stores is about a curated set of products festooned with the Green Finds badge, and it’s an effort we’ll see being duplicated in all the SM Stores nationwide beginning with SM Store in Mall of Asia. The badge will make these products easy to identify by the SM customers.

Over at the SM Specialty Stores, which are constantly growing in number and diversity, an array of natural, eco-friendly and locally-sourced products are poised to meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers. And this holds true whether its products made by local artisans at Kultura, choices having to do with clean beauty at Watsons, toys and baby accessories imbued with green technology at Baby Company, or even a range of eco-friendly home tools at Ace Hardware.

Through Green Finds, there’s also the notion of highlighting suppliers that are taking the steps to adopt green practices. Along with these suppliers, its SM Retail’s intention to constantly increase the green options for their customers. SM Retail can’t play status quo or use a snapshot in time approach, but has to strive to be a friendly, persuasive force to create substantive change within the supply chain; and help green be the constant, and not just an option or alternative.

During the Green Finds media launch held at the SM Retail HQ building, I was talking to Mara S. Coson, Group Sustainability Adviser of SM Investments Corporation, and it was refreshing to hear how committed this NextGen is about Sustainability, and SMIC’s Sustainability goals. For Mara, it’s about scale and making a long term positive impact. If properly aligned within the whole of SMIC, with Green Culture permeating through all the conglomerate’s divisions and subsidiaries, Mara is confident that Sustainability will be entwined with SM’s future.

In fact, right there at SM Retail Corporate Office, a two-tower building, Mara and Luis Lava, VP for Workplace and Administration, were proud to report how the structure was recognized by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), as it received a WELL Health-Safety Rating for certification on facility operations. This was certified in January 2022 for the following; Cleaning & Sanitization Procedures, Emergency Preparedness Programs, Health Service Resources, Air and Water Quality Management, Stakeholder Engagement and Communication, and Innovation.

To make this certification more understandable to the general public, it points to how important it is for SM that their employees, who occupy the two towers of the building, can enjoy a degree of quality of life, while in the building, to standards globally recognized by the IWBI. I know that during the short tour I was given of the building, I saw a lush Skygarden overlooking Manila Bay, meditation room for employees who need to recharge, and there’s a small chapel right beside that room.  

Whether it’s for the stakeholders who work within the SMIC family, or for the public who heads to their malls or reside within their developments, SM is spearheading a new consciousness and realization that Green doesn’t have to always be a conscious alternative; but can be an accessible, easy to reach, choice. We owe it to ourselves, and to the future of our children, to turn into this Green Lifestyle corner.