Sometimes we focus so much on the convenience factor of e-commerce that we forget how much it contributes to climate change. As the e-commerce sphere grows considerably, so does the negative impact on the environment. E-commerce is booming so much that by 2028, experts predict half of all sales will be made online. What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this mass movement to online sales and has made us dependent on buying a wider variety of goods online. Every aspect of the e-commerce supply chain contributes to climate change in some form or another—from the product’s production and the packaging used in shipping, all the way down to what happens to the product once it is no longer needed by the consumer.
Changing Consumer Sentiment
Long gone are the days of corporations and entire industries having carte blanche to maximize production for consumption and profit, regardless of the environmental impact. Consumers care about the products they buy and the companies they support—now more than ever. According to Forbes, 87% of customers would buy a product with a social and environmental benefit if given the opportunity. Furthermore, 92% of customers would be more likely to trust a company that supports social or environmental issues. This changing mindset is especially popular among the younger generations. According to The State of Consumer Spending in 2020, 62% of Generation Z survey participants prefer to buy from sustainable brands, a number that aligns with Millennials, while 54% of Generation X and 44% of the Silent Generation said the same (Baby Boomers are a different story). These younger consumers want to feel good about how their purchases impact the world by researching and becoming more educated on environmentally friendly business practices. People feel proud knowing that they’re offsetting potential environmental impacts while shopping.
Stepping Up to Make a Difference
Fortunately for brands looking to drive revenue from a more eco-conscious customer base, working to be more sustainable doesn’t mean a complete product redesign or supply chain overhaul. MuteSix is a strong supporter of eco-conscious brands and works to promote eco-friendly practices and solutions for clients, as doing so is in the best interest of both the environment and clients’ businesses.
Packaging Is a Smart Place to Start
Brands looking to implement realistic sustainable changes can follow the ideas and examples below as guidelines for their own initiatives. A good place to start to improve environmental impact is to evaluate packaging. Oftentimes, packaging is wasteful and usually ends up in landfills for 500 years or more. By switching to compostable labels, using biodegradable packing peanuts and mailers, eliminating polybags, or opting for bags made from recycled materials, brands can reduce the strain that their packaging has on the environment. Brands should also look to reduce excess waste by eliminating the act of adding extra marketing materials to orders, or at least make sure they are recyclable or made from recycled materials.
Many of MuteSix’s DTC clients are prioritizing their packaging elements and working to make them as sustainable as possible:
- Bite Toothpaste places a strong emphasis on reducing plastic waste. They avoid plastics by using glass bottles for their toothpaste tabs, and instead of plastic poly-mailers, they ship with kraft envelopes padded with post-consumer recycled newspapers. Their boxes are made of fully recyclable corrugated cardboard and sealed with a kiss—or as others call it, paper tape. Plus, when it’s time to refill, the toothpaste tabs arrive in 100% home-compostable pouches every four months with their subscription service.
- Sand Cloud, known for their sand-resistant Turkish cotton beach towels, is committed to using sustainable materials and donating a portion of all sales to marine conservation charities as a way to protect the environment. As a maker of beach towels, keeping oceans and beaches clean is near and dear to Sand Cloud’s brand and customer base, and that’s why their mission is to provide consumers with better lifestyle options that help conserve our oceans and marine life. From their packaging to their products, everything is designed with sustainability in mind. Not only does Sand Cloud sell the world’s best beach towels, but they’ve also introduced other eco-friendly accessories, like clothing made from recycled materials, reef-safe sunscreen, reusable glass water bottles, and reusable metal straws.
- Enviroscent, a DTC home fragrance brand, utilizes sustainable packaging, making their products refillable, reusable, and recyclable. They design, ship, and source products as responsibly and Earth-consciously as possible.
- Net Zero Co. offers items that can replace daily products with reusable alternatives, all while maintaining the convenience and style of these everyday items. When it comes to packing and shipping, they even use plastic-free shipping which uses 100% biodegradable packaging. Plus, for each Net Zero order placed, they will help plant trees.
Other Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint
In addition to initiatives like those above, DTC brands can implement other practices such as grouping orders and reducing the overall amount of orders sent. By offering the option to send large orders in fewer boxes, brands can reduce the number of packages on the road that all require the use of fossil fuels to get to their destination.
If a customer places multiple orders in a short time frame, offer to group them so they ship together. Another option is to offer a slower shipping option, it takes longer for the order to arrive, but the Earth will thank you. For instance, Bite Toothpaste products are shipped using existing postal routes. It may push out its arrival date, but on average this will have a smaller carbon footprint than driving to the store to pick up a plastic tube.
Depending on the nature of your products, consider managing the disposing of your products once the customer is done with them. Some products last longer than others, by design or not, some are easy to recycle, others are not. By creating a recycling program where you handle the proper disposal of your more-difficult-to-recycle products, you take the strain off the customer to properly dispose of the item, and in turn ensure that it is actually able to be recycled, or at least disposed of properly.
EcoCart Can Help
By offsetting their companies’ carbon footprints, DTC brands can further develop their sustainability practices and offer carbon neutral items. Utilizing apps like EcoCart can quickly and easily offset the carbon emissions of all your orders —from manufacturing to shipping—and offer 100% carbon neutral goods to your customers. For brands that are just starting out with sustainability initiatives, EcoCart also enables you to give your customers the option to offset their unique orders when they checkout, which typically adds 1-2% to their order total.
EcoCart works by calculating the carbon footprint specific to each customer’s order and then uses the funds from either the merchant or the end customer to donate to certified carbon offsetting projects. EcoCart’s projects go through rigorous carbon offset laboratory and field testing, only funding projects that are carefully vetted, ethically proven, and scientifically verified according to the world’s major carbon standards. These projects are also third-party verified with site visits by trusted partners to ensure successful calculation of greenhouse gas reductions and management of funds. There is a wide range of projects that merchants can choose to support that are helping the environment and people all around the world.
Since adding EcoCart to their store, DTC brands have seen increased cart conversions and have received extremely positive feedback from their customers. For example, nutrition supplement brand Nuzest saw a lift in cart conversion of 22% after adding EcoCart to their store. Despite making small sustainability changes, including more eco-friendly supplement canisters and eliminating extra plastic where possible, Nuzest saw adding carbon neutral orders with EcoCart as the next crucial step on their journey to becoming a more sustainable brand.
Another company to look to is made-in-the-USA apparel brand Tribe Kelley, which has seen a 19%+ increase in cart conversion since adding EcoCart to their store. In addition to using EcoCart, Tribe Kelley is increasing their sustainability practices. Starting fall 2021, the brand will be using compostable packaging made from corn starch, an alternative to traditional poly bags, which will allow customers to compost the packaging they receive with their orders. Across the board, brands like Nuzest and Tribe Kelley that add EcoCart to their online stores typically see 1 in every 4 customers opting to make their orders carbon neutral.
Realistic and achievable sustainability is not one-size fits all, and it doesn’t have to involve changing how your entire business is run. Sustainability as a whole is made up of deliberate, small and big choices and changes. Whether you are a sustainability wizard or just starting on this path, EcoCart is a great option for any DTC brand to add to their store. Not only will you be showing the planet some love with every item sold, your customers will show you that they appreciate your brand’s alignment with causes they care about.
EcoCart is on a mission to make fighting climate change simple, cost-effective, and accessible for everyone. EcoCart offers an e-commerce plugin for merchants on Shopify, BigCommerce, and other major platforms, giving brands the ability to offer carbon neutral orders. EcoCart partners with carefully vetted, ethically proven, and scientifically verified carbon offsetting projects that comply with the world’s major carbon standards to enable brands to seamlessly bring sustainable shopping to their customers. Get started at ecocart.io/business.