The Greening of Macy’s

by Melody Morrow

Not sure where to begin when discussing such an iconic brand and how it has meant so much to so many for the past 153 years. It was founded two centuries ago when there were horse drawn carriages transporting shoppers throughout city streets.

There are so many traditions, epic events and celebrations surrounding this shopping legend so I want to make sure they are duly noted. Let’s start with the infamous Macy’s Herald Square, which at one point was the largest department store in the world, but now according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest building is the flagship store of Shingsegae in South Korea, twice the size of Macy’s flagship. I am sure this store, which sounds like a city in itself has many merits, but I doubt it has wooden escalators from the 1940’s, which are a wonderful piece of nostalgia for NYC to house in a landmarked and historic building.

What is nostalgia for some is a brand new experience for others—creating new memories for generations of families and friends during a trip to the Big Apple before the first snow could be one of them. What would the winter holiday season be like without their Thanksgiving Day Parade (great website by the way) and the classic movie Miracle on 34th Street starring the original Santa Claus? Or when Macy’s lights up the summer sky and New York smiles during its Fourth of July Extravaganza started back in 1976.

Fast forward several decades to the 21st century, Macy’s latest ventures into community building I would say are their sustainability and philanthropic efforts. Although this happening is not a spectacle, it will surely once again show how Macy’s Flagship Store can stand the test of time along with the other Macy’s stores and properties and remain one of the top tourist attractions in NYC and in North America.

Work will begin in early spring of 2012 for a four year, $400 million dollar renovation that will reinvent and elevate the shopping experience at the Herald Square store which includes cutting edge technology, restoration and more sustainability efforts. Their goals include reducing energy consumption by an additional 8-10% on top of the 19% saved since 2003, hosting an extra 15-25% of renewable energy sources by 2013, cutting paper usage by 10% in addition to the 23% reduced since 2007 and Increasing the use of sustainable building materials by 20% in all major construction projects.

Their green initiatives include using black hangers, piloting electric vehicle charging stations in partnership with ECOtaility, joining Recyclebank Rewards as a partner, continuing solar power and LED light bulb programs, eliminating the use of all foam packaging such as cups and bowls in their restaurants, using solar power systems and encouraging credit card customers to receive bills online instead of by mail. Although this may not be exactly green, they are creating the largest shoe department to date for women. Hopefully there will be Tom’s Shoes in there somewhere!

They are making eco friendly totes available and integrating eco packaging both online and in store. You can even plant the new peanuts they are using for shipping! Five million dollars has been donated to the National Park Foundation since 2008. Employee volunteer programs have clocked 1.9 million hours and 32 million dollars in charitable efforts towards community clean up projects in the parks, rivers and beaches.

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