Sustainability has become a major topic all around the world because of its importance to the health and general wellbeing of the human species.
A NASA study revealed a +95% likelihood that human activity is making the planet warmer.
Another study revealed that 100 companies alone caused 71%of emissions globally. In other words, there is no better time for businesses to commit to sustainability than now.
With all those statistics regardless, it’s great to know that there is still hope: Businesses can rewrite the story, and by 2030, cut down global greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.
Here are several practicable ways e-commerce brands can be more sustainable in their activities;
Table of Contents
1. Redefine or Change Your Brand’s Fundamental Values
2. Practice Sustainable Shipping
3. Include A Sustainable Product In Your Brand
4. Avoid Energy Wastage At All Cost
5. Create Recycling Policies For You And Your Team
1. Redefine or Change Your Brand’s Fundamental Values
Photo Credit: Ralf Geithe on istockphoto.com
Customers, prospects, and the world at large define your brand by its most projected values. And, in the current quest for sustainability, a brand whose values don’t reflect sustainability may be making a loud statement without knowing it.
Any such brand may passively say it’s aware of the benefits of sustainability and the disadvantages of not being part of the culture but still choose not to get involved. Or that it doesn’t care about the well-being of its customers.
Your customers want to know that you have their best interests at heart, and showing that in your ethos is, in fact, one of the most important ways to make people connect with your brand and retain them.
Besides, redefining your values to be pro-sustainability makes it a top priority—keeping the culture fresh in your strategies and driving you to make relevant moves to sustain the environment.
It’s worth knowing that 75% of sustainability experts in a Business for Social Responsibility survey agree that adequately including sustainability objectives and processes in a business improves its ability to help address global environmental changes.
In this era, there are thousands, if not millions, of choices for your customers. A sustainable brand will adapt to changes in every sector and align its strategy professionally to answer to current trends and satisfy consumers.
Here are several ways to integrate sustainability into your brand’s fundamental values:
Spice up Your Logotype
At first glance, your Logotype gives a prospective customer a peek into your brand’s personality. Your Logotype should be very easy to read and be consistent with current design trends.
You may not want to keep using an inherited logo from the 60s if you want your brand to tell today’s story. Your branding has got to be in the moment.
The font type must add to the general sheen of the brand and must align with the values and goals your brand holds in high esteem and wants to project. Make it stand out and carry out a survey, if possible, to see how it plays out—out there.
Create a tagline—or modify an already existing one—to speak about sustainability
Your tagline is often that humorous or easy-to-remember clause that you flash as a summary of the brand’s goals and values.
It is a good place to add a touch of sustainability. However, it is mostly dependent on the type of product or service you provide.
For instance, using a tagline like “Making Your World Greener” may be a turnoff for prospects if you are a footwear brand. But, who knows: It could work in the future as more sustainable shoe brands evolve.
Here is the good news: If your brand can’t specifically insert something about sustainability in the tagline, there are other ways to create that aura.
Use keywords like “Difference,” “Change,” “Positive,” “World,” “Better,” etc., and see how to reflect the global campaign to make businesses more sustainable.
Make it plain so that your team and the world can understand and contribute to your commitment to the wellbeing of the global human population.
Your Color is Your Story
Ever thought about why brands or companies spend a lot of resources to create the most fitting color combination and shades that are most consistent with their goals and current trends?
It’s because business assessment in the 21st century has gone way beyond just aesthetics. It’s no more just about having the most appealing colors.
Your colors must be symbolic—representing what air you want your brand to create around someone viewing it for the first time, the ethos you run with, the values you want to inculcate in consumers, and your commitment to a sustainable environment.
As you can imagine, the processes of redefining your brand’s fundamental values above are just the tip of the iceberg. You must compliment them with the steps below to make your brand more sustainable.
2. Practice Sustainable Shipping
Photo Credit: Rost-9D on istockphoto.com
With about 165 billion parcels shipped in the United States in 2018, there is always a massive supply of waste that negatively impacts the environment.
Greenhouse gas emissions from delivery vehicles increase considerably when these packages are transported to pre-delivery warehouses or shipped directly to customers.
The quest for fast delivery has not made sustainability easier because businesses do everything possible to meet up with their delivery schedules—and that only adds more chips to their carbon footprint.
EcoCart and Carbon Offsetting
A carbon offset is a way of balancing out your carbon footprint by investing in sustainable practices elsewhere. EcoCart is a plugin for e-commerce stores to easily offer carbon neutral shipping to their customers. EcoCart has offset over 25 million pounds of carbon dioxide. EcoCart does this by supporting carbon offsetting projects that are rigorously vetted according to the world’s major carbon standards. Projects include activities like protecting forests and building wind farms.
Installed in just a few clicks, EcoCart is an easy and accessible way for your brand to start being more sustainable today.
There are several other ways to cut down the carbon footprint from shipping and make it more sustainable:
Go for Recyclable Packaging Options
Recyclable or biodegradable packaging is the best packaging option to make your e-commerce brand more sustainable.
Arka is one of the best sustainable packaging companies around. The company can design and produce custom recyclable paper and packaging materials for your brand.
It is also a no-brainer for carbon-neutral shipping as it offsets emissions by producing larger volumes of packaging at about 50 miles from fulfillment centers.
You also get to be part of the zero plastic waves by using the more recyclable aluminum instead of plastic for wrapping fragile items.
In addition to recyclable packaging, the average consumer welcomes naturally sourced packaging such as jute, cotton, or composite biodegradable packaging, thanks to global awareness.
Arka caters to customers’ natural packaging needs by providing compostable mailers that, in turn, help your brand to reduce ocean pollution and recycling energy.
Minimize Packaging Size
Nobody wants to order a phone and have it delivered in packaging the size of a 15-inch PC. It won’t look too good; plus, the unboxing experience may be the last the customer would ever want to have with that brand.
Besides the not-so-nice unboxing experience, unnecessarily large packaging can lead to waste of filling or supporting materials and add to the carbon footprint.
Packaging should be tailor-cut for the products they house. Not only will that save cost and reduce pollution, but it also saves space in case the packaging has a long-term promotional value and will remain in the consumers’ houses for a while.
Reduce Returns by Including a Fee
In the US alone, returns have created 5 billion pounds of landfill garbage and produced 15 million tons of carbon emissions annually—the same as the amount of waste produced by 5 million people annually.
As a result, if you have a policy that allows customers to return products freely without restrictions, your brand may lag in sustainability.
Product specifications should be clear and as accurate as possible to reduce returns overall, and customers should be charged a small fee for returns, refundable only in case of damaged or wrongly described products.
A return fee may not sit well with customers, but communicating your commitment to sustainability in the most relatable terms can make all the difference in the world.
Employ the Services of Sustainable Shipping Companies
Several shipping companies have strategies in place to cut down on carbon emissions—because it is practically impossible to completely stop them in e-commerce shipping considering the level of technology today.
A few years from now—who knows?—flying water-powered or solar vehicles may become commonplace, and new inventions can ultimately eliminate carbon emissions in e-commerce shipping. But until then, they can only be minimized.
Explore bulk shipping alternatives to different fulfillment centers
Bulk shipping is one of the most basic ideas that enhance greener shipping by reducing carbon emissions by shipping fewer parcels overall.
Also, having strategically located fulfillment centers brings delivery closer to consumers, cutting down on the amount of fossil fuel burnt.
3. Include a Sustainable Product in Your Brand
One of the ways to make your business more sustainable is to have products in your brand that have a sustainability orientation. It can enhance your brand’s reach, give it greater authority, and minimize the turnover rate for growing brands.
According to a 2019 survey, 62% of Gen Z respondents said they’d spend more on food products that don’t adversely affect the environment, while 54% of Millennial respondents said they’d do the same.
Interestingly, over 50% of the most active age groups—Gen Zs and Millennials, respectively—expressed a willingness to pay more for food products that don’t damage our environment.
You can give your customers a wide array of eco-friendly options to choose from and contribute to the global sustainability cause. However, it will depend a lot on the line of products you offer.
For instance, there is a sustainable option that could work for a wide range of businesses: making products with high resale or reuse value.
Reusable products have already been in existence long enough in several industries. That’s applaudable!
As a way to support global sustainability, a brand like Helm Boots—a proud U.S shoe brand—re-soles customers’ boots so that they can reuse them and keep them out of the garbage for as long as possible.
However, the vast population of other industries that produce single-use products or packaging materials has to come up to par and put a touch of sustainability on their products. And that is achievable by improving resale and reuse value.
Another efficient way to do that is by giving coupons to consumers for a certain number of recyclable or reusable packages returned to the company or buying them back from customers. This will both increase consumption and encourage eco-friendly practices.
4. Avoid Energy Wastage at All Cost
To minimize energy waste in your business, you must, first of all, do an energy assessment to see where you need to cut down energy supply.
A comprehensively sustainable brand, aside from observing every other pro-sustainability practice, must also look within its business environment and make sure its core (and administrative) setup is sustainable in practice.
You must ask several important questions, such as: Do we generate unnecessary heat? Are there other alternatives to fossil fuel usage in our plants and office complex?
Are there any pieces of equipment that should be turned off? Are there places where we can use energy-friendly lighting?
It’s very easy not to pay attention to your business’s internal sustainability because of an outward global sustainability consciousness. However, you can begin by prioritizing some of your business’s most valuable internal sustainable adjustments.
5. Create Recycling Policies for You and Your Team
Several studies have revealed that the US is the largest waste generator and recycles only one-third of it. And, although many EU nations are doing better than the US in global recycling statistics, there’s still a lot of work to do.
The situation could improve a lot with better state and national legislation, optimized recycling facilities, and greater private sector advocacy.
Penn State revealed that recycling paper, instead of making fresh paper by sawing down trees, generates a good 74% less air pollution and consumes 50% less water.
The same resource showed that every ton of plastic recycled saves the equivalent of the energy consumed by two people in a year, the amount of water consumed by one person in over two months, and 2,000 pounds of oil.
Educate your team on general industrial recycling policies, create yours, and have them understand the positive global implications of recycling items and reducing the inorganic content of landfills.
Your e-commerce brand needs to be up to speed with the current environmental sustainability trends. The tips above will help you create a more sustainable e-commerce brand.
Promoting sustainability with your brand and taking relevant actions in that regard can make your business stand out from the crowd, improve brand loyalty, and most importantly, make the world safer and healthier.
Phillip Akhzar is the founder and CEO of Arka