Our Current Stories on Caring for Our People

Nordstrom Cares Heroes

Thinking Outside the Box to Recycle

Thinking Outside the Box to Recycle

Across Nordstrom, employees are finding ways to make a difference when it comes to social responsibility. We call them our Nordstrom Cares Heroes—and Julie Dieringer, store administrator at our Downtown Portland, Oregon store, is a perfect example.

After reading an article about how another retailer was reusing its boxes, Julie thought, "We need to do something like this." She quickly sent a note and video link about the program to Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct.

"As a store administrator, I see how many boxes get recycled every day," said Julie. "We recycle the old boxes and then put product into brand-new boxes—I thought, 'Why not just reuse some of the good boxes destined for recycling?'" A short time later, Julie heard back from Jamie, who told her the company was going to look for ways to implement her idea.

Making it work
The guidelines for the boxes are pretty straightforward. Just like any product we ship, we pay attention to quality control and only use boxes that are good candidates for reuse. They must be structurally sound to protect the product inside and be free of rips, tears or excessive labels. We also make sure that none of the reused boxes contain private information on them.

Nordstrom's Cedar Rapids Fulfillment Center has implemented a pilot program that fills employee orders with the reused boxes. Results—including cost savings—are already positive. "The average cost of a carton is 55 cents, so we're saving over a buck for every two boxes," said Tim Wittman, Cedar Rapids Fulfillment Center director. "And the labor is minimal, because we're simply pulling boxes aside as we sort them."

We've also rolled out a version of the program in our full-line stores, where structurally sound boxes in good condition are used for store-to-store shipments. At the Downtown Seattle store alone, receiving manager Dallas Luttmer estimates that approximately 15 to 20 boxes are reused each day for transfers between stores.

"We are able to reuse this type of box so often that we've significantly cut back on orders for new boxes," said Dallas. "All of our store team is involved in this effort, too—we actually receive more boxes from them than we can reuse, which shows that they're involved and excited!"

Thinking outside the box
Rolling out this concept is far from complete; the work continues. We realize there is ample opportunity to expand the program, not only to a broader employee base, but also to our customers.

"We love it when our employees share great ideas like these," said Linda Peffer, Nordstrom's director of corporate social responsibility. "We're all in this together—looking for ways to solve problems and contributing. It's pretty neat to see how one idea can make changes in so many ways."

Julie's story is one example of how our employees are making Nordstrom a more environmentally and socially responsible company. It's also an illustration of one of the many reasons why our people are our greatest asset.

Employees' Ideas Create Positive Change

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