How To Go Green With Your E-commerce Business
It’s 2018. Scientists have just released the results of a landmark climate change report that shows that if we don’t dramatically improve the way we treat our planet, then we’re all going to be either underwater or very unhappy in about 22 years. Not ideal.
It’s time for us all to start making changes to our lifestyles, and e-commerce businesses are no different. If you’re an e-commerce business owner, then there are plenty of ways you can make a difference.
Perhaps you’re not a convert yet. You may think that going green will be too complicated, too time-consuming or drain resources that could be spent elsewhere. You might even think that your customers don’t care, or not rank it highly on your priority list. But there are tons of benefits to going green with your e-commerce business.
You’ll actually end up more cost-effective and have more longevity as a business if you embrace the green life. (Not to mention, you’ll be helping to save the planet!)
Have a look at our ideas below to see how you can go green, reduce your waste, and why it’ll be great for your business.
Reduce your energy usage (and bills!)
There are all sorts of simple things you can do to make your e-commerce business greener.
Turn off all of the lights and computers when you leave the office (or your house, if you’re a solo e-commerce entrepreneur). You can also make sure that things aren’t plugged in at the wall and sapping energy unnecessarily (you might think that this is an old wives’ tale, but it’s actually true).
You can also invest in LED or low-wattage light bulbs — they use less electricity, which means they save power and money.
These are all tiny changes you can make that you probably won’t even notice. But they’ll all add up to make a difference to the amount of energy you waste. And it’ll make a pleasant difference to your energy bills at the end of the month.
If you want to go a step further, then why not choose any energy supplier that only uses renewable energy sources? Some suppliers only provide energy generated from wind and solar power.
Reduce your packaging
Reducing your packaging is a great way to go green as a business.
All too often, customers end up frustrated with ordering a product online and receiving a huge box packed with styrofoam, plastic and other waste. It’s not an enjoyable experience for them, it’s expensive for you, and it’s pretty wasteful.
Crackdown on unnecessary packaging. Minimize packaging so that you only use what you have to (this will also help you cut down post and packaging costs).
Use functional packaging designs to increase the value of your product and your customer experience. If you provide an additional purpose for your packaging, your customer can use it again instead of throwing it away. Check out the story behind Puma’s Clever Little Bag or multifunctional packaging like Hangerpak for inspiration.
Use green alternatives
You can also use sustainable alternatives: find materials which are easy to recycle or renewable.
Stop using toxic packaging such as plastics and replace with cardboard and paper. These are great because they provide protection and support to your products, but they are also reusable and biodegradable. Encourage your customer to recycle by including a small note inside your packaging.
If you’re looking for inspiration in awesome green packaging or product alternatives, then search for eco e-commerce brands on business marketplaces to see how similarly-sized businesses to yours are doing it. Exchange covers all sorts of differently-sized online stores, from small green sites like Eco Mommies to the bigger Climate Cups.
You can also check out some of these awesome ideas for green packaging alternatives to get motivated.
Use a green courier
If you usually use a courier to deliver your products, then why not partner with an eco-friendly courier? This will help you to reduce your carbon footprint in a big way.
Green couriers will use emission-free or low emission modes of transport such as bicycles or scooters (and in some cases, electric or low emission cars or vans).
There are lots of positives to using a green courier service: little to no emission of greenhouse gases, not contributing to harmful air pollution and no use of non-renewable fossil fuels. Not to mention that it’s more cost-effective, and in some built-up areas like cities, it will actually result in a speedier delivery.
Support a green cause
As well as making changes to the way you work and run your e-commerce business, you can also go green with the profits. We’re not saying that you should be giving all of your money away, but supporting green charities and causes is an easy way to put the ‘eco’ into ‘ecommerce’.
You have a few options with this. Find an organization tackling pollution and damage to the environment and donate some of your profits to them.
You can also get involved in local projects or charity work in your community — either providing the funds or tools for a green living or helping with activities like clean-ups or planting trees. If you’re running a team, this is an awesome opportunity to get your staff involved and interested in what you’re trying to do. This also works well as a team-building exercise, and you can also write about it on your blog afterward, too!)
As you can see, there is all sort of different ways that you can go green with your e-commerce business. If you implement some or all of these suggestions, you could make a huge difference to the footprint you’re leaving.
Why not shout about what you’re doing too? It will encourage others — such as your customer and your competitors — to do the same, and start to think more about how to be sustainable. Share your knowledge and spread your greenness around — make a difference to how we treat our planet.
Victoria Greene is an e-commerce marketing expert and freelance writer who remains very envious of those out there seeing the world! She’s passionate about helping small business owners and entrepreneurs become successful. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.
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