5 ways to make your Shopify store more sustainable in 2021

A new year is always a great time to assess where you are as a business, and set goals for areas that you want to improve in as an online store. One of the most important areas to focus on in 2021 is sustainability. As a store in the crowded e-commerce landscape, it’s essential to be a business that sets ethical behavior, sustainable practices, and connection with customers as high priorities in their decision making and goal setting. Customers want brands that “get them” and they want to support brands that align with their values and treat their customers, employees, and the planet right. Sustainability is totally possible for your brand, it just takes commitment, creative thinking, and the drive to stand out from the crowd and promote good practices. Here are five ways that you can make 2021 the year your Shopify store became more sustainable.


1. Use sustainable packaging materials

Use sustainable packaging materials

While plastic based mailing solutions are often the cheap and convenient option when it comes to shipping orders from your store, they aren’t a very sustainable option. In the US, shipping materials and packaging account for over 75 million tons of waste every year. 

With many people recognizing this dangerous statistic, there are more and more options becoming available for compostable, recyclable, and reusable shipping materials. These kinds of mailers are also a fantastic way to signal to your customers that you care about sustainability and you’re willing to go above and beyond as a store to reduce the amount of waste you are responsible for. 

For all your sustainable packaging needs, we highly recommend our friends at EcoEnclose, who offer 100% recycled packages of all shapes and sizes. They offer both recycled plastic and recycled paper mailers, that can all be either composted or recycled. They’re a great way to protect your orders without harming the planet.

2. Remove excess paper from shipments

Remove excess paper from shipments

One simple way to cut down on the amount of paper waste created by orders you ship is to choose digital receipts and packing slips. 

When every order you ship has anywhere from one to three extra pieces of paper in it that are either advertising materials, packing slips, or receipts, that adds up to a significant amount of wasted material every year. Even if you only ship 20 orders a day, that adds up to over 10,000 pieces of paper being used every year—paper that could have been saved! Plus, it’s much easier to find an email with order, shipping, and return information than it is to save a piece of paper. This deliberate choice also creates opportunities for getting creative with your packaging and coming up with new ways to communicate with your customers.


3. Package orders more efficiently

Package orders more efficiently

Many of the large ecommerce sites are notorious for shipping items in comically oversized boxes or packages, and for bundling individual items in an order inefficiently. This is a simple way to stand out to your customers and drastically reduce the amount of shipping waste. 

Orders that don’t need large amounts of filler material both result in more secure transit for the packages and less waste is created by using excess filler. It can also save money on shipping costs for your business, and creates a more enjoyable unboxing experience when your customers receive their products for the first time.

Taking the time to dial in your packaging design and materials can result in a more sustainable and a more enjoyable experience for the people who will order from your store. Details matter, and customers notice when brands practice intentionality, instead of just throwing things in packages and shipping them off with no further thought.


4. Utilize a carbon neutral hosting service for your store

Utilize a carbon neutral hosting service for your store

There are many obvious areas that Shopify stores can improve their sustainability, but there are a number of behind the scenes changes that can also have an impact. Web hosting services can often have a significant carbon footprint, due to the immense power needs of data centers, and the amount of digital traffic that they must be able to support. 

Carbon neutral hosting services offer a great alternative to traditional hosting services, as they either purchase their power from renewable energy sources, or pay to offset their footprint through carbon offset projects. If this isn’t an option for you, purchasing carbon offsets as a company is a great way to accomplish the same goal, and lets you market how you take big steps to eliminate your carbon footprint. 


5. Add EcoCart to your Shopify store

While all of the ideas listed above are essential and effective, there are still carbon emissions that come with the shipping, production, and transportation of orders, that are hard to avoid. EcoCart is a great way to provide a simple option for your customers to add a small charge to their total to offset the carbon footprint of their order. 

Once your customer checks the box, EcoCart does the rest for you, calculating the carbon footprint of each order and providing a simple, seamless way for your customers to reduce their own carbon footprint as they shop online. EcoCart uses the extra cents from your customers to donate to important carbon offset projects around the world. Installing the EcoCart app to your store is a great way to signal to customers and potential customers that your business values sustainability. 

Installing EcoCart in your Shopify store is fast and easy, and you’ll experience great customer support at every step of the process.


Stand out from the crowd

E-commerce is an incredibly crowded market that is dominated by the big players. In order for a small business to stand out online, it’s essential to present a thoughtful and enjoyable experience to your customers at every step of the process. People want to buy from businesses that they feel like they can connect with and that believe the same things that they do. 

Customers are more and more valuing brands that value more than just making a profit and that desire to make a beneficial impact on the planet and on their customers’ lives. Each of these ideas can be powerful marketing tools that set you apart from the competition and foster greater customer loyalty. Make 2021 the year your brand gets serious about sustainability!

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