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Earn Green By Going Green: A Conversation With EcoCart Founder & CEO, Dane Baker

In celebration of Earth Month and inspired by the work our partners at EcoCart are doing to establish a green eCommerce ecosystem, Hawke Media reached out to Dane Baker, Founder & CEO of EcoCart to get his perspective on some of our most pressing questions when it comes to going green and staying profitable.

You can also catch Dane Baker, Benedict von Merey, and Ashley Scorpio in discussion on 4/29/2021 at 10:00 AM PDT for “Earn Green by Going Green: Sustainability in E-commerce.” Save your seat by clicking the banner below:

1) Firstly, why is green eCommerce more important now than ever? And what impact can that have on our carbon footprint?

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s our reliance on online shopping. In 2020, we saw a massive surge in retail sales via e-commerce, which is expected to continue. This increase in online shopping means more packages shipped, faster deliveries, and ultimately, more carbon emissions released into the atmosphere.

In the last year, many consumers have grown accustomed to fast delivery and expect their packages to arrive in only a few days. This lightning-fast delivery comes at a steep price—for the environment anyway. Freight movement is not only the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, but last-mile freight is a significant contributor to local air pollution, often in disadvantaged communities. Last-mile delivery growth will increase carbon emissions by 30% by 2030. By continuing on this trajectory, we are putting an untenable strain on our planet.

2) What is eCommerce’s impact on the Earth?

eCommerce is a significant contributor to the Earth’s total carbon emissions. Getting a package to your doorstep from across the world is not without planes, trains, ships, and automobiles that all emit carbon on their respective journey. eCommerce also contributes to a growing issue of excess waste and plastic products. Typical packaging is not recyclable; even if it is, only about 70% of corrugated cardboard worldwide is successfully recaptured for recycling. Excess packaging (like when you get a tiny product in a massive box), unsustainable padding, extra marketing collateral packed with the order, and orders shipped in more than one package all contribute to excess waste that typically ends up in landfills.

3) Why has this message started to resonate more with shoppers lately? Did the pandemic accelerate this shift in consciousness/thinking towards brands?

Consumer sentiment has seen a shift, especially with Millennials and Gen Z. These modern consumers are opinionated and eco-conscious, pushing back against companies with business practices that don’t align with their beliefs about sustainability. Most consumers—some 88%—would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity, and 92% would be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues. We at EcoCart think many people realize that the pandemic exacerbated the problem of excess waste and lack of sustainable products, especially with the demand for disposable gloves, masks, and other PPE—much of which is now in landfills for the next 500 years or so. This pandemic also forced many people to slow down, which allowed them to be more considerate and deliberate in their actions and what type of companies they support.

4) Who are the shoppers starting to take green eCommerce more seriously and factor it into their purchase decisions? What exactly are they looking for?

Millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge in green e-commerce. Millennials, especially, are an attractive target group for many e-commerce brands since their purchasing power is continuously increasing. They spend almost $600 billion annually, which is expected to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020. To win this large group of young people as customers, being outwardly eco-friendly is essential in attracting this audience. A recent survey found that 70% of millennials say a company’s environmental focus influences their purchase decisions. To capture this audience, a company has to consider these shoppers’ values, which has increased focus on sustainability in recent years.

5) Can brands adopt green practices and still grow?

When it comes to sustainability and being more “green,” brands often consider it an all-or-nothing approach. And it makes sense—sustainability on the surface feels very complicated, and with complex updates and adjustments to your business comes a steep cost. Taking this approach can quickly end in failure or a brand giving up trying to adopt more eco-friendly practices. The best way for any company to adopt green practices is by implementing practical changes that are easy to implement and maintain but make the most significant possible positive impact despite how simple they might appear.

6) What steps can brands take to adopt greener practices?

An immediate thing any brand can do is self-evaluation. They can look at different aspects of their current practices and see where there is room for improvement and change. For example, how can they use compostable packing peanuts made from recycled mailers and boxes if they take packaging? How can they cut excess packaging, like marketing materials and confetti? Adjusting packaging is incredibly compelling for an eCommerce brand because it’s something consumers pay a ton of attention to. We are constantly conversing with people about how they open a huge box for a small item they ordered or that their order was wrapped in unnecessary plastic. Brands should note those patterns in sentiment and evaluate their own practices.

7) What does “Earth Month” mean to you and EcoCart?

We love the sentiment around Earth Day, but we wanted to take it a step further and see how we can leverage the excitement of Earth Day all month long—since we’re celebrating the home we all share, it’s worth a whole month of celebration if not more.

The Earth obviously means a lot to us at EcoCart, so we want to make it a point to celebrate it while highlighting the need for change. We hope that this year, we can help shape the conversation around a more sustainable future for eCommerce.

8) How does your solution address the impact of eCommerce on the planet? What have you been able to accomplish so far?

EcoCart is an excellent option for brands of all sizes, no matter where they are in their overall sustainability journey. Sometimes, it’s a first step in changing how they practice sustainability or the final element of their eco-friendly mission. We want to be there for brands at all stages of sustainability and help them achieve their eco-conscious goals without breaking the bank or completely overhauling how they run their business.

In an ideal world, everyone could support their favorite brands without worrying about things like carbon footprints or excess waste—but right now, that’s not a realistic option. So, in the meantime, while we work towards a more carbon-positive world, we need to work together to change the current system in place and improve it wherever we can. For our EcoCart team, that means changing the negative impact of shipping eCommerce goods on the environment. Thus far, EcoCart has offset 25 million lbs of CO2, equivalent to powering 1.125 million light bulbs or the annual emissions from 7,500 cows.

Special thanks to our friends at HawkeMedia for their insights on this topic.
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