Sustainable E-Commerce: How to Make Your Online Store Greener
For a long time, sustainability was just a buzzword. Many businesses paid lip service to environmentalism in their marketing but didn’t actually commit to it in practice.
But today, sustainability is at the core of modern, progressive businesses — consumers demand it. And while online stores certainly have their environmental advantages over their brick-and-mortar counterparts, they’re not entirely eco-friendly.
Thankfully, there are lots of things you can do to make your online store greener. Read on to discover how to embrace sustainable e-commerce in your own online business.
Sustainability isn’t just good for the planet — it’s good for your branding too. Discover 3 brilliant ways to create a killer online brand presence in 2019 right here.
1. Find a Green Web Hosting Service
While your choice of web host might not seem like an immediate bone of contention for sustainability, it plays an important role.
The servers your website is hosted on require huge amounts of energy to run. However, there are two ways that web hosting services mitigate their impact on the planet: renewable energy or carbon offset initiatives.
Renewable energy is exactly that relying on sustainable sources of green energy like solar or wind to power servers. This is the best way for web hosts to keep green, as it’s sustainable from start to finish.
But for those services that don’t use renewable energy, there are carbon offset initiatives. These involve the creation of programs that reduce the emission of greenhouse gases elsewhere. For every unit of energy a web hosting company uses, it pays to create the same or higher amount of energy from a sustainable source to plow back into the system.
Your web hosting is just one component of how your business operates — but it’s an important one. Once you’ve found a green web hosting service, shout about it on your website and in your marketing. Let your customers know that you are committed to sustainable e-commerce, every step of the way.
2. Go Paperless
Virtually, every business consumes a vast amount of paper, and online stores are no different. From internal documents and delivery documents to marketing materials and receipts, e-commerce businesses generate a huge amount of paper.
But most, if not all of this, can be avoided by going paperless. Almost every paper document in your business can be transferred to a digital format. Everything from receipts and statements to marketing materials can be generated and delivered by leaning on digital tools.
Similarly, email marketing services help you cascade important information straight to your customers. It’s more affordable than paper, more sustainable, and easy to implement, making it an easy way to make your online store greener.
3. Partner with a Green Initiative
When it comes to sustainable business, sometimes it pays to partner with the experts.
Just as web hosting services use carbon offset plans to mitigate their negative impact on the planet, so too can you partner with eco-friendly organizations for your business. There are lots of environmental charities out there that you can collaborate with for a mutually-beneficial partnership.
The idea is simple. Every time a customer shops with you, donate a portion of the proceeds to your green charity of choice. And the green tech brand Nanoleaf does exactly this. By giving its customers the option to donate during the checkout process, 60% of Nanoleaf’s customers made a donation in the first month since it was allowed.
Partnering with an environmental charity is a rewarding, two-way relationship. On the one hand, your chosen charity receives a regular stream of income which helps them meet their environmental goals. On the other, you help contribute to a global green initiative, and you receive positive PR as a result of your partnership into the bargain — it’s a win-win.
4. Use Efficient Packaging Wherever Possible
Packaging is a huge factor when it comes to sustainability in e-commerce. By definition, it is ephemeral and disposable — use it once, and then it’s gone. Consequently, packaging generates a huge amount of waste as the end product and has a significant impact on the planet during its production.
But it doesn’t need to be this way. There are lots of things you can do to reduce the negative effects of your packaging. Your first option should be to ditch the plastic and use only recyclable packaging. Cardboard is the most obvious solution, but so too are biodegradable materials such as bamboo or vegetable fibers.
The ink you use in your labels also plays a role in your online store’s sustainability. Many inks generate toxic chemicals as a by-product. These often end up entering the ecosystem, damaging wildlife and habitats as a result.
Thankfully, there are a plethora of sustainable inks available Soy-based inks are a sustainable alternative that you should consider. Soy and vegetable inks are two options, but so too are UV inks.
There are lots of eco-friendly packaging materials for you to choose from. Do your research and talk to suppliers, and you’ll make huge strides in reducing your impact on the earth.
As more and more consumers demand sustainability from the brands they love, it’s up to businesses to meet those needs. There are lots of things that you can do to make your own online store that bit more sustainable. Follow the tips above and embrace sustainability throughout your business so that you, your customers, and the planet can feel the benefit.