The green movement is nothing new, but the idea of eco-friendly business and eCommerce has only taken firm hold in recent years. The tipping point seemed to be a combination of customer interest reaching new levels and technology making it easier for businesses to change. We are indeed a long way from an ideal green world, but changes in eCommerce and shipping are bringing us closer one step at a time. It is up to the large companies to make green changes as any size can use eco-friendly methods and materials. We will not arrive at a greener future overnight, so it is up to everyone to do their part to protect the only planet we share. There are multiple ways any eCommerce business can go green, and it is not an impossible or overly expensive task.
Why Green eCommerce And Shipping Matters
If you look at the largest industries in the world economy, online business and shipping are likely on that list. Shipping alone is one of the biggest industries that is also a vital supply line for other industries. Goods must move from one destination to another, but that transport generates a lot of pollution and waste. Sadly, our best ways of moving cargo are sea, air, and land with different vehicles, but all methods create pollution. Even if you shop online to reduce your environmental impact, there will still be pollution from transit. Since shipping and moving goods is a pillar of modern commerce, the practices are not going anywhere, but there are ways to reduce pollution. New ship designs, more efficient engines, and other advancements will help, but those benefits take time to implement. While we wait for more extensive, industry-wide changes, there are still changes and methods even the smallest businesses can adopt to help.
Ways To Make Your Shipping Greener
Shipping is a complicated network of different partners and players. With so many different carriers and shipping options, it can be hard to find ways where your business can go greener. In addition, you cannot control anything the carriers do, nor can you affect how goods make their way around the globe most of the time. However, that does not mean your business is stuck. Even the most minor changes can add up to a significant impact, so do not think your business cannot make a green difference.
One of the issues that causes the most avoidable shipping waste is wrong deliveries or incorrect addresses. Almost everyone has received a piece of their neighbor’s mail at some point. However, simple mistakes repeated across the global shipping industry mean an incredible amount of fuel goes to waste. Prevent shipping and delivery issues by using programs to double-check customer-entered information. Once the software is confident the address is valid, you can also generate a shipping label. Instead of manually creating a FedEx shipping label, you can have it ready as soon as an order is confirmed to save time and prevent issues down the line.
How efficiently you ship items does affect your carbon footprint, but what you ship also matters. It does not matter how well you ship items if the items in question are less than eco-friendly. Look at your packaging and protective materials to see if your shipped products ruin your other green efforts. Single-use plastics are the first thing to avoid if at all possible. As more biodegradable or alternative plastics hit the market, you can keep your packaging design but make it out of greener materials. Use cornstarch packing foam instead of styrofoam to keep items safe in transit. There is a slew of alternative green shipping materials you can use without sacrificing your brand’s quality.
Another way to be eco-friendly is to let customers group orders, so they ship fewer boxes and use fewer materials. However, if grouping an order will delay some items, you must check with your customer to ensure they understand. Many customers are more than willing to wait a few extra days if it means they can help the planet even a little bit. You can also offer a small discount to customers who agree to order grouping to make up for the short wait time.