The Sustainable Store

Assile Beydoun

United Arab Emirates
Promotional URL: Not Available

Provide a summary of the concept, how it works/could work, and why it could be successful

The Sustainable Store is an online retailer and marketplace that aims to lower the carbon
footprint and waste impact of everyday consumer goods purchases by offering ecofriendly
products delivered to households in a sustainable manner.
From offering a varied assortment of sustainably sourced foods and household items, to
providing a marketplace that gives local vendors a chance to break through global massproduced
items and sell their own produce and recipes, The Sustainable Stores gives every
person a chance to choose sustainable living. The products themselves are not the only
merit, with plastic free packaging in reused boxes, refill options for cleaning supplies and
everyday pantry staples to eliminate product packaging, pre-calculated shipping lanes with
carbon efficient routes, and hybrid transportation with low fuel emissions, any shipment
made by the store will be environmentally conscious. With every order delivered, our
drivers also pick up any packaging waste consumers have saved up at home either to be
recycled or re-used for future shipments.
This concept is meant to minimize the impact of both everyday consumer good products
and the way they reach households in an era of online shopping. With a climate crisis on
humanity’s hands and as plastic pollution becomes a more urgent issue, if overconsumption
is not moderated the planet’s resources will be depleted and excessive
wastage will continue cause irreversible environmental damage. The earth needs
immediate change, and every person has the social responsibility to participate in the
solution. Many consumers understand the need for driving this change and want to
contribute but are not sure where to start. This initiative will be ideal for them because it
gives consumers the peace of mind of knowing that their everyday shopping can become
more sustainable with minimal sacrifices, making sustainable living more accessible and
effortless to the masses. Ultimately, conscious consumerism, the power every consumer
holds in the choices they make when buying products, can be the number one solution in
reducing our carbon footprint and saving the planet.

Explain briefly the specific problem(s) you are trying to solve, and how your solution impacts or will impact the region

The scientific evidence paints a clear and eerie picture: Humanity has a climate crisis on
its hands, and it will result in serious and damaging effects in the decades ahead. This is
being caused largely by human activity: Greenhouse gas emissions from animal
agriculture and transportation, power plants, manufacturing, and other man-made sources.
Emissions include carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, which has reached a
concentration level in our atmosphere that the Earth hasn’t seen for more than 400,000
years.
Over-consumption of consumer goods and animal products is the key contributor on an
individual level of these far-reaching consequences. As the world population increases and
mass production becomes more and more affordable, accessible and mainstream, our
infinite growth is incompatible with a finite planet, finite resources, and a finite ecology. We
are putting massive strain on core resources such as water, land, and raw materials which
continues to worsen, and our consumption choices are our best bet to halt this before
there are no more resources left for exploitation. Simply put, if the current quality of
consumption does not change and sustainable alternatives are not embraced, the finite
amount of resources that are available to us will deplete.
In the past three decades, we witnessed policymakers and some world leaders driving
momentum towards a more sustainable global economy. At the 2015 Paris Climate
Conference, political leaders adopted the world’s first legally binding global climate pact,
with ambitions that included limiting global temperature increases and achieving zero net
emissions in the second half of the century. That same year, Denmark produced more than
100% of its energy from renewable sources and was able to export excess power to
Germany, Norway and Sweden. Since then, China has become one of the leading installers
of solar photovoltaic panels and India now hosts some of the largest solar projects in the
world. Slowly but surely, sustainability is becoming a reality. But where does The Middle
East stand? Though admirable efforts have been put in place, such as Dubai Municipality
imposing mandatory green building specs for new buildings, designated parking spaces
for low-emission vehicles and bicycle storage racks across Dubai, these efforts are not
nearly enough to drive change within every household. With the Middle East’s combined
imports being approximately three times greater than combined exports, conscious
consumerism can drive much faster change in the region.
Millennials are our best chance to revert the unintentional apathy to this problem. They
need to learn that it is not a problem that only policymakers and government bodies can
ameliorate, this is an issue that requires individuals to embrace a paradigm shift and make
immediate interventions in the way they consume resources and most importantly, in the
way they consume products. The Sustainable Store is one solution for them to start. They are already shopping online, so we direct them to a retail environment where only
sustainably compliant products are featured. With a wide assortment of all their household
needs from local/seasonal produce, to bamboo toothbrushes, chemical-free laundry
detergents, domestic solar panels, and vegan food products (animal agriculture being the
most destructive industry facing the planet today), this will become their go-to store for
everyday household purchases. The store also includes a marketplace connecting local
small business owners that promise sustainable products made within the city such as
vegan baked goods, dairy free ice-cream, and handmade clothing from reused vintage
items. This supports the local communities, protects small businesses from global mass
production, and most importantly supports the planet.
Even among those actively trying to make a change already, the reality is that researching
every single product before buying it is almost impossible. Even if someone has the
dedication and time to do so, companies are not always transparent, and information is
not readily available. Having pre-vetted products available under one store, is a credible
way to shop while knowing that they can trust the pre-work has been done for them.
The Sustainable Store’s impact is not limited to driving change at an individual transaction
level but will also push manufacturers and organizations that wish to participate and be
featured to be more transparent about their product sourcing. It will also encourage them
to venture into more eco-friendly production and packaging.
Another critical tool the store concept will drive beyond individual consumption change is
community education. With earned word of mouth, every person making one purchase
from The Sustainable Store will cause a ripple effect of conversations driving awareness
when it comes to discussions with the rest of their household or at gatherings. The store
acts as a conversation starter to drive education. Though existing educational campaigns
are a little bit more widespread on single-use plastics, with countries like Canada joining
the growing global movement of banning them, we have a long way to go to live
sustainably, especially in the Middle East. Education will be critical, and we need to rely on
larger organizations, institutions and concepts like The Sustainable Store to facilitate the
transition and drive change.

Geographical Scope: where is the innovation currently operating/where would it first be applied and where would it scale?

The current plan is to start the store in Dubai and eventually expand across the Arab World
targeting major cities including Abu Dhabi, Jeddah, Riyadh, Amman, Beirut and Cairo.
Eventually, as cities are integrated one by one based on locally relevant vendors and
national shipping partnerships, this project is a globally scalable initiative.

Please state the current status of your initiative

Development stage

Beneficiaries: Explain who would benefit from this solution and indicate whether you would be working with a local partner or organization to implement (if so,specify)

Though the environmental impact will be significant, every consumer would also benefit
on an individual level from shopping at The Sustainable Store. Consuming food, household
and beauty products more sustainably can be the single most rewarding change anyone
can embrace for themselves and for their community. With plant-based food and chemical
free products proving to significantly reduce health risks and eradicate diseases,
Sustainable living goes a long way in driving healthier habits. The community also has a
lot to gain from a store that supports local production and enables small businesses to
compete with large-scale mass-produced items.
As a start, given Dubai’s efforts to build a more sustainable city, this concept enables
sustainable thinking to go beyond government entities and into every household. Local
organizations have not yet been contacted but as the initiative materializes one option
would be to request support and partnership from Dubai Municipality as it is in line with
their vision for the city’s future.

Describe the scalability and innovation elements of your initiative

The Sustainable Store is scalable across the Arab World. Every city can host a local store
setup of its own. The key elements to enable a setup would be securing local eligible
vendors and qualifying local delivery partners willing to provide sustainable services
including reused packaging, recycling pickup with every delivery, and fuel-efficient
transportation.

Please state your innovation sponsor (if applicable)

None

What are your key resources at this stage and what resources would you need to implement/scale?

At this stage, my most valuable resource is my own passion to drive change. With a
background in consumers goods and a 10-year career with Procter and Gamble in the Gulf
region, I have led e-commerce brand growth campaigns and partnered with local retailers,
media platforms, R&D, and product supply teams to drive consumer goods penetration into
every household in the UAE. I am also the founder of Dubai Vegan Community, a non-profit
advocacy platform of +4000 members in Dubai to drive outreach and spread awareness on
animal rights, and to promote better understanding of healthy food choices and
environmental sustainability. Through both the vegan community connections and FMCG
partnerships established throughout my career, my contacts in the industry will be a
critical enabler for bringing The Sustainable Store to life.
The key resource needed include mentorship and coaching to implement the concept, and
potentially investments to enable faster growth and scale.

What are your key challenges and risks at this stage?

The key challenge of moving this initiative from development to actual pilot stage is
assessing and understanding the level of investment and resources needed for sustained
growth. Building the platform as a personal project without a dedicated full-time resource
might also limit its expansion and speed to market, while bringing in sponsors and
investors too soon without the accurate valuation of the store’s worth might also impact
its advancement.
Externally, the key challenge the concept faces is for consumers to pursue a habit change
from the current e-retail giants to adopt a more purpose driven shopping experience.
Change of routine is seldom easy but with the right level of investment in education and
driving awareness this challenge can be mitigated.

What are your goals and timeline?

Goal 1: Store set up and ready for market, January 2020
Goal 2: Awareness of The Sustainable Store reaching +50% of Dubai households, with
+10% of them being active users, June 2021
Goal 3: Expansion into all Arab market, covering 6 major cities by June 2022

Why should this innovation be selected?

Enabling a local community to make healthier and more sustainable choices can be one of
the most impactful actions needed in the Arab World and will be a facilitator in driving
change amidst a climate crisis.
A key pillar behind the success of this innovation will be the people behind it. Leading it
with a background in consumer goods in one of the world’s largest CPG companies, with
degrees in business administration and plant-based nutrition for sustainable living, I
believe I can ensure seamless execution.
If this concept is selected, it will be one of the first steps to empower consumers to
improve their wellbeing and alleviate some strain on our planet and our resources.
Consumers need to be more conscientious and purposeful than ever about what they buy,
how it was produced, and how it arrived to them. Even when they are attempting to, they
often lack the option to exercise this mindset and this store can offer them the opportunity
to make a difference. Help us help them.

Website / promotional materials (if applicable)

None

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