Office Depot Pushes 'Green Book'

Office DepotEven as it's pushing Black Friday, Office Depot is singing a greener song, too--the company just released its fifth annual Green Book, a catalog of thousands of environmentally preferable products. From light bulbs to paper to toner to office furniture, recommendations are geared for businesses of all sizes--and this year, feature a higher recycled content cutoff, with more than 1,400 items with at least 30% post consumer or 50% total recycled content.

Also new is the biodegradable tableware made from sugarcane waste, to help shift away from Styrofoam.

Of course, the Delray Beach, Fla.-based company is also touting its Black Friday specials, including GPS units and digital picture frames, which it began emailing to customers on Tuesday. (Stores will open at 6:00 a.m.)

But there is new evidence that even in this economy, stores like Office Depot are smart to give consumers as many green options as possible, and to cultivate their environmental colors. A new study from TNS Retail Forward, a consultant based in Columbus, Ohio, says that while the share of shoppers who view a retailer's or brand's commitment to social responsibility and sustainability as important has declined since the beginning of 2008, "more shoppers are aware of retailer and brand initiatives related to these issues."

In its ongoing ShopperScape data, Retail Forward has also found that an increasing share of shoppers is willing to pay "a little more" for "green" products. "Although retailer commitment to social responsibility and sustainability is not yet driving store choice or purchase decisions for most shoppers," it says, "shoppers are increasingly aware of retailers' and brands' green agendas."

Walmart is already one such winner, it says. While the share of shoppers who can name a retailer or brand committed to sustainability and social responsibility has increased more than 4 percentage points since November 2006, Walmart has "grown its level of unaided shopper mentions to 16% since 2006."

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