RUG shop goes ‘green’

The windows of the University Shop are covered with discount stickers. Everything must go, because in a few weeks, the business will be transformed into a 'green' enterprise.

In the backroom of the University Shop, between the piles of jumpers, shop manager Erik Vermeeren explains what is happening with the greening of the business. Soon, the RUG shop will only sell products ‘which have been made from sustainable fabrics’, says Vermeeren. ‘Organic cotton, bamboo and so forth.’

The manager initially planned to offer one sustainable product per product group. The RUG board subsequently decided to make the shop 100 per cent sustainable. Jumpers will not be the only things made from ‘green’ material: the mugs, pencils and shoelaces with the RUG logo will be, too. For this step, a new supplier has been brought in: Gemaco BV.

One step further

According to Vermeeren, the decision to go green has nothing to do with the quality of the current products in the shop. ‘There is nothing wrong with them, they are just not sustainable’, he says. ‘As a university, we already had a number of prerequisites – no child labour, among others. Now, we have gone a step further. We want every step of the process – from the manufacturer to the shop – to be sustainable.’

The RUG Green Office assisted Vermeeren in evaluating the sustainability of the products. This was based upon certain quality labels, such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Demeter and Max Havelaar.

Once the last unsustainable products are sold from the University Shop, the business will re-locate to the building at the corner of the University Library. On the windows of the new location, the optimistic words ‘coming spring 2016’ are displayed; that is perhaps a bit too hopeful, Vermeeren says. ‘It will be summer already on 1 June, so it will be interesting to see if we manage the move by spring.’ The discount stickers will probably continue to adorn the current shop’s windows for a while.