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It all started 60 years ago, when SM patriarch and founder Henry Sy put up his first shoe store, more like a hole in the wall, on the bustling corner of Carriedo, Manila.
Soon, SM became a shoe-per star, selling not just shoes but also a lifestyle, thanks to "Tatang" who was a staunch advocate of the 3R (reduce, reuse, recycle) initiatives back in the day when being green wasn't in fashion yet.
"Tatang was probably the first proponent of the principles of sustainability at a time when green wasn't a buzzword yet," relates Chito Manalo, SM Retail, Inc. President and CEO. "He had a good sense of what the customer wanted and understood that Filipinos are really masinop, being frugal or not being wasteful is part of our culture, of what we do, which is passed on to our children."
For SM, being green didn't just happen out of the blue. The green philosophy has long been embedded in the SM culture, in the way employees live and go about their work each day.
More accessible and affordable green finds
Today, SM turns deep green as it blazes a trail in retail by calling on its customers to embrace green living with the launch of SM Green Finds, one of many initiatives under the SM Green Movement -- a collective effort of SM together with its partners, customers, and communities towards green living, green culture, and a green planet.
"Every day at SM, we devote ourselves to understanding what our customers want, anticipate their needs, and find ways to bring products to their satisfaction," Manalo asserts. "We find ourselves at a very unique opportunity: to bring both our customers and our suppliers towards a greener shopping experience that thinks of the welfare of our communities and our common home, our planet. By making greener options easier to find and more affordable, we can help our customers take the first steps towards a greener lifestyle and, at the same time, encourage our suppliers to incorporate greener ways of creating products."
Cathy Ileto, SM Retail, Inc. VP for corporate communications, shares, "For SM Retail, we were thinking, 'How can we best advocate green?' You see the SM Store is a marketplace, and as industry leader, we can help move the needle in advocating a green lifestyle. Currently, we have more than 3,000 SKUs (stock keeping units) which are sustainably sourced, eco-friendly. We don't want empty marketing, it has to be supported by merchandise. We're also excited to share that we have a lot of RAs (retail affiliates), like The Body Shop, Kultura, Watsons, Ace Hardware, and Baby Company -- all of these specialty brands offering Green Finds."
For his part, Manalo points out, "These products don't have to be organic. These are products with natural ingredients, are sustainably sourced, not tested on animals. Even the packaging is made of recycled plastic. We use the term green, but we're making it more efficient."
The SM Green Finds pop-up store opened at SM Store MOA last June 14 and will be there until July 13. Other SM Stores are following suit, where you will see an exciting assortment of green products embedded at the various selling pads within the Home, Fashion (women's and men's), Health and Beauty departments.
You will also find eco-friendly options produced by social enterprises or partners in green living, ranging from reusables to products made of recycled materials or packaging.
The green & clean SM Retail Headquarters
During the launch event of Green Finds at the new and green SM Retail Headquarters, Mall of Asia Complex, we found an amazing and amusing array of green products.
This includes kitchenware made of high-quality bamboo and sustainably-sourced acacia wood, SM Home Kea baskets made of buri and seagrass, Canadian towels made of bamboo, Benne Terra table runners and placemats, Oeko-Tex Standard 100 textile collection, LED lights that can save energy by up to 85 percent, biodegradable pots made of wood powder and rice or corn husks with resin, handcrafted items made by artisans and social enterprises, toxin-free baby feeding sets, non-toxic kiddie building blocks, chemical-free beauty products.
So easy to find, too, were the lovely hair and body care products by Watsons, The Body Shop, and The Routine, all of which care for you and Mother Earth as well.
With the SM Green Movement, expect more innovative green spaces to rise. The newest addition is the SM Retail Headquarters, a green and modern workspace with the al fresco Sky Garden and a scenic, shimmering view of Manila Bay. The two-tower, 14-story-tall building houses SM Retail, the SM Store business, SM Markets food retail business, and other specialty brands under SM Retail, Inc.
With its energy-saving features such as Insulated Glass Unit panels, automated lighting systems to reduce power consumption, VRV air-conditioning system with centralized remote control, water recycling and waste management program, lots of indoor plants surrounding spaces, an internal stairway to encourage walking, the SM Retail Corporate Office received the WELL Health Safety Training certification on facility operations in January 2022 for innovation, cleaning and sanitization procedures, air and water quality management, and emergency preparedness programs.
A shout-out to small and medium enterprises
"Launching Green Finds is sending a message to SMEs that there's really a market for them and they can use SM as their platform," Manalo stresses.
"It's really a journey that we're starting now," Cathy Ileto chimes in. "We're doing a lot for the entire eco system. We're enabling the SME community. We're also advocating a greener lifestyle."
Green Finds couldn't have come at a better time. "Here in the Philippines, environmental consciousness has been on the rise," notes WWF-Philippines executive director Katherine Custodio. "Consumers around the world are already seeking and demanding sustainable options at a large scale -- this is no longer a 'niche' market. It is now on the side of businesses to do what they do best and respond to this consumer demand with creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that is directed towards securing our shared future."
How does Green Finds fit with other things SM is doing to be more sustainable?
"We at SM are passionate about being responsible and using our network to help our communities and our environment, and help curb climate change," Manalo unequivocally replies. "By launching Green Finds, we think we can help our customers, suppliers, and people we work with to make a difference as well. We're embracing sustainability in all our operations. You can see this in our solar panels on our malls and our commitment to make sure over half the energy used in our properties comes from 100-percent renewable sources. We build energy-efficient LEED buildings. We plant trees and mangroves and protect marine species and birds. We educate our co-workers by running the largest sustainability school in the country, hosting sustainability conferences, and by being an advocate of worthy causes wherever we can."
Yes, we can change the world, one green step at a time!
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You can find the SM Green Finds at the SM Store MOA beginning June and increasingly throughout the SM Stores in SM Malls. Green Finds products will also be highlighted throughout the store with green tags. Malls will highlight where to go to find green products. Those who want to know more can also follow the QR codes and information provided at the store or visit the website .
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Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like SM Supermalls.