In today’s world, businesses must balance organizational growth while also being environmentally friendly and sustainable. Consumers care about their impact and how their purchases contribute to climate change. They don’t condone pollution and the destruction of the natural environment and they want the brands they support to have these same values.
It’s important now, more than ever, to be a sustainable, green business, but what exactly does that mean? More than just a buzzword, at its core, sustainability refers to a lasting equilibrium between humans and the Earth that allows humans to get what we need without completely destroying the planet in the process, and coincidentally ending life as we know it. This future is one that is inevitable if we continue down our current path.
In addition to wanting to save the Earth, and ourselves, being a sustainable business will strengthen your brand and attract a whole new sector of consumers. Which means more business for you, and a happier Earth for us all — win-win, right?
Want to know where your business stands? Get your sustainability scorecard with our quiz:
To help get started on your business’s path to sustainability here are 5 easy steps to become more eco-friendly and start reducing your carbon footprint.
#1: Start small, switch your printer:
For e-commerce businesses, printing labels uses up large amounts of ink. Not only is this expensive to maintain, but running out of ink never happens at a convenient time, and recycling might not be at the top of a small business owner’s to-do list. Of the hundreds of millions of ink cartridges that are bought each year, over half end up in landfills.
Thermal printers are a sustainable alternative to traditional printers. Thermal printers don’t use ink — yes, you heard that right, no ink! They work by applying heat to a specific type of thermal label paper. To go eco-friendly, you can switch out your normal labels for water-soluble ones. Made from wood cellulose, your customers can actually dissolve their labels under a steady stream of water. Another alternative to dissolvable labels is biodegradable ones, which your customers can put them straight into their compost.
#2: Packaging is everything:
Ever heard of the Pacific Garbage Patch? It’s just like it sounds — a giant garbage patch floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Non-recycled plastic, amongst other trash, ends up there. A common sight? Plastic bags, like those polybags you’ve probably used to ship products to consumers in. Swap out your mailers for resealable ones made from recycled plastic. Not only will your customers like being able to make a return using the same bag, but they will also love seeing the clearly marked “This bag is made from recycled plastic.”
In addition to switching to recycled packaging, less is more. Use appropriately sized packaging, and skip any unnecessary added papers like invoices or coupons — that’s what email is for!
#3: Switch to digital:
Speaking of email, you’re still sending snail mail? Ditch direct mail and OOH advertising in favor of digital advertising. While there are some pros to direct mail, the majority direct mail items are thrown away without a second thought, and at the least, we can hope it’s recycled. Whatever is not recycled, or can’t be recycled, ends up in landfills.
Digital advertising has grown immensely in the past several years and the capabilities far surpass just email. OOH, or out of home, advertising can also take its toll on the environment. What happens to billboards when they’re taken down anyway? Up until recently, recycling billboards was not a common practice in the US, and not every billboard across the world has an eco-friendly fate. Put an emphasis on only using digital billboards that don’t produce excess waste.
#4: Go green with branding:
Take a stance and declare your commitment to being a green, sustainable business. A clear position will reach and appeal to more consumers. All of the aforementioned steps will help better your brand positioning as green and eco-friendly in the minds of your customers. Adding social media posts, website content, or even emails about your brand’s sustainability mission and initiatives will help make your intentions clear to your consumers that you care about being a sustainable business and helping out the Earth.
In addition to positioning your brand as sustainable, affirming your dedication to being an eco-friendly business will provide you with a competitive advantage against brands that are not proudly eco-friendly. Consumers will buy from the company (yours) that makes them feel good about their purchase, both due to your quality products and also to your sustainable efforts.
#5: Install EcoCart:
The last, and arguably one of the most important steps, will take your commitment to be sustainable even further. With EcoCart, you can empower your customers to make their online orders carbon neutral. At checkout, EcoCart prompts your customers to offset their unique e-commerce order for a nominal amount, which goes towards funding verified carbon offsetting projects.
Feeling generous? You can cover the cost on their behalf. The few extra cents spent go toward independently verified projects that actively reduce carbon emissions, like planting trees and sustainable agriculture initiatives. Remember that competitive advantage? This will push your company to the next level of sustainability. The best part, it’s free to install on your Shopify store.
By following these steps not only will you be helping out the environment, but your customers will also love you even more for your efforts that align with their values. Sustainable business is the future —be a part of it with EcoCart.