Melting ice caps, rising energy costs, alternative fuel sources… Environmental issues are on the forefront of the headlines these days, and the general public is growing more conscious of their impact on the world. As mystery shoppers, our job dictates the need to be consumers and use valuable natural resources.
But despite this, there are steps we as mystery shoppers can take to reduce our impact on the environment, feel good about our jobs, and save some money doing it!
On the Road. By far the largest impact mystery shoppers have on their environment is through the required driving. One of the easiest ways to reduce this impact is by purchasing a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle. However, for most people, this may be something to consider for the long-term rather than something you can do for your next shop.
There are things you can do on each and every shop to reduce carbon emissions and save gas. First, consider taking shops closer to home. Also, driving about 10-15 miles per hour slower than you normally do will conserve gas – which will save you money!
Driving slower reduces the wind drag on your car, and thereby increases your car’s gas mileage. You may also consider cleaning out your car, specifically any larger items that may be unnecessarily weighing down your car and decreasing your gas mileage.
If your shop requires or allows a purchase to be returned, try to make that return on the same trip if you are permitted to do so. If you must wait a period of time before returning the item, run other errands in that same vicinity so you don’t have to drive all the way home and back to the store again. With these measures, you will conserve gas and save money.
At the Shop. Most shops require a purchase of some kind. Even if you are permitted to return the item, your purchase will most likely generate the use of a plastic bag. Up to three trillion plastic bags are used each year by consumers, and most of these end up in landfills. Unfortunately, plastic bags do not biodegrade, but rather break down into smaller and often toxic particles over time.
You can of course consider not accepting the bag, especially if your purchase is of just one item that you can easily carry out of the store in your hands. If you do accept a plastic bag, consider re-using that plastic bag for lunches you take to work, trash, and so on.
Many shoppers are now toting their own re-usable canvas bags to take their purchase home. These bags can be purchased relatively cheaply at most grocery stores. What’s more, since you earn money shopping, you can write off your purchase of these re-usable bags as a business expense.
In Your Home Office. The home office often harbors energy-sapping machines, such as a computer, a fax machine, a copier and printer. Energy ratings are now being provided on most new machines. Taking into account the energy usage of new office machines will reduce your energy consumption.
Another idea is purchasing combination machines – such as a fax, printer and copier all in one. This will save you valuable desk space and also money. Your energy bill will be lower when you have just one machine versus three.
Most machines do have some energy usage even when they are turned off. While the amount is small, consider the amount of energy going through three or four office machines on a constant basis. Over the course of a month or a year, this will add up. So in addition to turning off machines you are not using, go one step further and unplug them to save extra energy.
In addition, you should consider switching to energy-saving flourescent light bulbs if you haven’t already done so. These bulbs last up to 10 times longer than their energy-guzzling predecesors, meaning you won’t have the cost of purchasing replacement bulbs for many years. They also use about 75% less energy than their predecessors, which will mean instant savings on your utility bill.
Most mystery shoppers print out their shop instructions and possibly maps to their shop locations. We all know some shop instructions can be 10-20 pages long. There are several ways you can cut down on your paper usage without cramping your normal routine.
First, buy recycled paper only.
Also, consider printing double-sided if your printer has this option. Or print shop instructions for your next shop on the back of the instructions for your last shop. When you’ve fully used that paper, be sure to recycle it. These steps will literally cut your paper usage cost in half.
Toner is also a draining cost of mystery shopping, draining on both the environment and your budget.
If you print out your shop requirements, turn your printer setting on “draft” quality to stretch the life of your toner cartridge. A local toner recycling service will not only recycle your used cartridges, but also usually sell refurbished toner cartridges at a discounted cost.
You can also check with the manufacturer for ways to recycle the cartridges.
Our job as mystery shoppers is to aid retailers in improving the customer services at their stores. This is a serious job that we all should be proud of. We don’t need to feel that double-edged sword of pride in our jobs by guilt of the impact on the environment if we take some extra steps at home.
Adopting these green measures into your mystery shopping will not only make you feel good about yourself, but will also save you money.