“Eco-friendly” this, “eco-friendly” that -- sounds good and wholesome, right? But what does it even mean?
“Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Basically, to be sustainable is “to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.”
As social consciousness increases, individuals are leaning more towards environmentally considerate practices in their daily lives, including how and where they shop. As their personal values shift towards sustainability, shoppers would rather make purchases at e-commerce sites that align with their values.
This is where you come in. If the products you're selling aren't entirely environmentally friendly, no worries. There are always new ways to practice sustainability. For example, if you’re selling technology or electronic devices, opt to have your customers trade in their old devices to be recycled, especially if you provide an attractive discount on purchases. You can even use recycled packaging products. (Don’t worry, there are tons of companies solely dedicated to packaging your products the right way. Poly mailers are on the rise).
Obtaining a sustainable e-commerce angle to your existing business is just a matter of a few alterations. The goal is to ensure that your products aren’t contributing to landfills or any other deterioration of the earth. Digital items may be the easiest, as it doesn’t require a tangible inventory. Consider selling e-books, podcasts, or online classes-- all of which are currently in-demand.
If you’re more into fashion, it’d behoove you to start an online second-hand or a rental clothing store, in which customers could borrow and return. It’s a sustainable method to keep clothes in rotation, out of the closet (after just one wear) and most of all, out of wasteful landfills. The same could go for books, furniture, household items and pet products.
When it comes to the food industry, you could even sell ugly produce items. These are the ones that are tossed by supermarkets and such because they aren’t aesthetically pleasing enough to sell-- (that’s capitalism for ya). However, despite their “ugly” exterior, they’re completely edible to eat! Tragically, these perfectly consumable produce items actually wind up rotting in landfills, bringing methane gas into the air. It’s worse than carbon dioxide. To keep it all sustainable, it is best that the packaging is biodegradable so that when it runs its course, it can be disposed of without fear of hurting the environment. Be sure to inform your customers of the point of the packaging. It’ll encourage them to keep sustainability top of their minds and in practice.
With whatever eco-considerate option that you choose, just make sure that you are keeping your word! No shopper wants to find out that their favorite sustainable online store is actually misleading them. It can be a sure way to lose customers and hurt your business.Besides that, there are many opportunities to be sustainable within your business practices-- you just have to have a sustainable mindset.
Now that you have this wealth of eco-friendly knowledge, get started! You have a plethora of sustainable shoppers to work with on protecting our planet.