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Did you know that 9 in 10 businesses believe consumers will hold them accountable for their environmental impact? As climate change’s effects become more visible, companies of all shapes and sizes are looking for more sustainable business ideas.

Becoming an eco-friendly organisation is crucial for the planet’s survival and your customers’ loyalty. From environmentally friendly products to green practices, this guide will review the best sustainable solutions to impact the earth positively.

What Is an Eco-Friendly Business?

A green business promotes an eco-friendly ethos and uses sustainable practices to protect the natural environment. This involves limiting water, energy, and raw materials during manufacturing while cutting carbon emissions during shipping and handling. A sustainable business might also find renewable and eco-friendly ways to use these natural materials.

Any business that reduces its impact on climate change is eco-friendly. However, sustainable companies striving for a net zero carbon footprint or promoting negative emissions (e.g. with solar panels or planting trees) using environmentally friendly methods will form a better relationship with their customers.

Managing orders efficiently, reducing waste, and supporting a cause are all excellent ways to become an eco-friendly business.

How Do You Know if a Company Is Sustainable?

Many businesses claim they care about the environment, but how do you know that they put their money where their mouth is? More importantly, how can you show your customers that you are a genuinely eco-friendly company?

  1. Transparency: Socially responsible businesses are vocal about their eco-friendly practices. They don’t just shout about being sustainable; you can see their impact with eco-friendly products, sustainable packaging, and recycled materials.
  2. Certifications: A Certified B Corp Company shows that the organisation prioritises sustainability initiatives.

If you wish to become an eco-friendly company, prove your commitment to your customers by becoming a B Corp Certified Company and making your supply chain more sustainable.

While many businesses claim to care about the environment, customers have few ways of recognising whether they are actually climate conscious. Highlighting your sustainable practices will raise awareness and improve customer retention.

Top Eco-Friendly Companies 2022

Which eco-friendly companies in Australia go above and beyond to promote environmental sustainability throughout their products and practices?

Ben & Jerry’s

The popular ice cream business has done a lot in recent years to make a positive impact on the planet. From biodegradable, eco-friendly packaging to reducing carbon emissions, Ben & Jerry’s is one of Australia’s leading sustainable businesses.

Ben & Jerry’s claim:

“We have nearly reached our 100% renewable goal, helped by adding our third biodigester to our factories that uses wastewater and ice cream waste to generate electricity.”

Moreover, Ben & Jerry’s focuses on carbon reduction projects within their supply chain to reduce 140,000 tons of CO2 emissions over 20 years.

Edible Beauty Australia

Edible Beauty aims to manufacture harmless beauty products in eco-friendly packaging. The beauty industry significantly impacts the planet, from plastic pollution to toxic chemicals and energy consumption. Edible Beauty Australia aims to create sustainable products with natural resources.

Edible Beauty claim:

We are currently working on an innovative packaging initiative that will work to reduce waste and carbon emissions linked to our inner and outer packaging. We are also incorporating zero-waste ingredients into our new formulations!”

Who Gives A Crap

With an innovative name, Who Gives A Crap produces sustainable bamboo toilet paper. However, the green business is taking its sustainable practices further. Installing solar panels in their warehouses, Who Gives A Crap aims to avoid fossil fuels and use carbon-neutral energy to produce their bamboo toilet paper.

Who Gives A Crap claim:

“Our goal is that our warehouses be carbon neutral when it comes to the energy they generate and use on-site.”

Why Should Companies Be Sustainable?

There are many reasons to focus on becoming a green business, not least because it’s good for the planet. Here are a few reasons you should implement a sustainability strategy – and stick to it:

  • The renewable energy market will grow to 2.15 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide in 2025.
  • A sustainable business can make long-term investments. Doing nothing can mean a more considerable loss in the future.
  • Renewable materials will have lower energy costs as fossil fuels run out. Implementing the infrastructure to support an eco-friendly alternative will save money in the long run.
  • Customers prefer eco-friendly companies. Within the fashion industry, 87% of Aussies want to shop more sustainably.
  • Greater brand loyalty when consumers see that you’re implementing fair trade practices and selling eco-friendly products.

10 Eco-Friendly Product Ideas to Sell Online

The market for eco-friendly products is vast. There are many niches to tap into. From beauty products to gifts that give back, find the right sustainable products to suit your company.

  1. Ethical clothing using organic cotton, bamboo, or recycled material
  2. Green toys for children made from recycled plastic
  3. Food industry – raising awareness for your local community and locally sourced foods
  4. Eco-friendly cleaning products
  5. Upcycled furniture or second-hand goods
  6. Working with charitable organisations to raise awareness of climate change
  7. Starting a recycling program and other initiatives for reversing climate change
  8. Toxic-free, sustainable beauty and cosmetic products
  9. Eco-friendly products for pets
  10. Environmentally friendly methods of landscaping, gardening, and construction

Ensure your ethical practices go beyond selling eco-friendly products. Everything from packaging and order fulfilment, to sourcing products, and shipping should have a minimal environmental footprint.

How to Become a Sustainable E-commerce Business in 2022

So, how do you become a sustainable business? Here are a few business ideas to turn your online store into an eco-friendly company.

1.    Use Eco-Friendly Packaging

Over the years, companies get flayed for using excessive plastic waste in their packaging. In Australia, we recycle only 18% of all plastic packaging; the rest is landfill waste. Use recycled materials for packaging your products to reduce waste and limit your environmental impact.

Moreover, it’s not just about using recycled material to package your products. You should also consider using less of everything. Do you need so much bubble wrap? Can you use a smaller box? Making minor adjustments could have a considerable impact.

2.    Know Your Suppliers

Consider working with a logistics company that cares about a waste-free future. Querying sustainability practices is one of the most important questions to ask your 3PL provider. You should check the environmental impact of partners throughout your supply chain. Think about the following:

  • Are they local, reducing travel?
  • Are products free from toxic materials?
  • Are products recyclable or produced from recycled materials?
  • Are products made from renewable materials?
  • Are products repairable (not thrown away)?
  • How do they store your inventory? Are their warehouses built sustainably?

3.    Recycle, Recycle, Recycle

Whether renovating your office or investing in new materials, recycling should be your top priority. Rather than sending old office supplies, consider upcycling or donating to local charities. Try to use eco-friendly materials and consider the environmental impact of everything.

You might also use recycled plastic or plastic bottles to produce products. Consumers love goods made from recycled plastic or other inventive materials.

4.    Reduce Your Building Carbon Footprint

Commercial buildings are responsible for 25% of overall electricity use and 10% of carbon emissions.

Reducing the carbon footprint of your office building means:

  • Using net-zero and passive construction methods
  • Employing solar and geothermal systems
  • Implementing sustainable best practices – such as turning the lights and computers off at night or reducing heating by one degree.

5.    Find a Cause to Support

One of the best ways sustainable companies can improve their eco-friendly methods is to support a specific cause.

As a small e-commerce business, you can’t do everything to save the planet. However, you can identify a passionate cause and fully commit to it. Focusing on too many eco-friendly initiatives might mean you do everything half-heartedly and confuse your customers with broad or mixed messaging.

For instance, if you’re concerned about water waste, make saving water and raising awareness your priority. If you want to support the developing world, consider donating goods to someone in need.

6.    Watch Your Water Usage

Droughts and water waste are one of the most significant environmental impacts affecting people, plants, animals, and the planet. Yet, watching your water usage is a relatively simple way to make your online store more eco-friendly. Moreover, reducing water waste will help your energy costs.

You should introduce drip irrigation and rain sensors, install low-flow toilets and faucet aerators, and fix plumbing leaks or dripping taps. In addition, speak to your suppliers and logistics partners to ensure they reduce water waste throughout.

7.    Migrate to the Cloud

Did you know that expensive and power-intensive servers significantly increase your carbon footprint? Switching to the cloud allows employees to share or access information anywhere, reducing travel costs and carbon emissions. Moreover, you will save money by eliminating the need to purchase and maintain energy-guzzling hardware.

8.    Educate Employees

Small things, as simple as ensuring employees follow your recycling program or turning off their computers (rather than switching to standby), can help. Educate your workforce on the benefits of going green, why you choose to do so, and how they can help. Suggest sustainable practices they can achieve, such as:

  • Carpooling
  • Using fewer paper towels
  • Using refillable water bottles
  • Incentivising sustainable lifestyles outside the office

9.    Invest in Renewable Energy

You might consider investing in clean energy sources. Solar, wind, hydroelectric and geothermal energy are more eco-friendly and cheaper in the long run. With government initiatives to reduce energy consumption, you’ll future-proof your online store with a shift to clean energy.

In somewhere as sunny as Australia, you’ll soon offset the initial investment of solar panels with your next-to-nothing monthly energy costs.

Kick-Starting Your Sustainable Business

With 61% of consumers citing sustainability as an influencer in purchasing decisions, implementing eco-friendly practices is essential. As an e-commerce business, you must make your environmentally friendly methods visible to customers.

Perhaps you could start a blog on your commitment to net-zero production or a how-to guide to get the most out of your goods (and their packaging) to reduce post-consumer waste. However, if you choose to highlight your sustainability, ensure you’re true to your word. Work with eco-friendly third-party logistics providers, suppliers, and e-commerce shipping companies.

FAQ

Is E-commerce Environmentally Friendly?

E-commerce companies have the potential to reduce waste and energy usage. You can be very environmentally friendly because you don’t need a physical space. Using recycled plastic for the packaging and climate-neutral shipping options, you can implement fair trade business practices throughout your online store.

How Can Online Retailers Be More Sustainable?

The easiest way for e-commerce businesses to become more sustainable is to consider their packaging, supply, handling, and shipping practices.

While next-day delivery is popular among consumers, consider the environmental impact of transporting products across the country within 24 hours. Work with a climate-conscious third-party logistics partner to become more sustainable.

What Are the Negative Effects of E-commerce?

Transporting goods across the country (or planet) for next-day or two-day delivery produces significant carbon emissions. Consider sourcing local goods and using environmentally conscious suppliers and shippers to reduce the negative effects of your e-commerce business.

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