Greening’ Your Shipping Strategy: What You Need to Know

By DEF Contributor

These days consumers prefer businesses that make an effort to be more sustainable and can demonstrate innovative environmental awareness as an integral part of their brand’s mission. Now well into the new decade, consumers have been consistently demanding more effort from businesses they decide to support. Shipping is a critical piece of any eCommerce operation, so naturally, how your business is able to package and ship its products has a major impact on your business’s environmental footprint. It is up to you as a business to maintain a competitive advantage and keep up with the environmentally sustainable mission of the packaging and shipping industry. Integrating efficient full-featured shipping APIs can help your company implement some of the following green shipping strategies to help you run a more sustainable company. 

Source: Gwen Lewis

Reduce or Remove Packaging

One of the most lucrative ways to reduce your business’s environmental impact and minimize material consumption is by reducing or removing it entirely. Re-examining how you are shipping and packaging your goods and products can make it really easy to find where you can cut costs by reducing unnecessary packaging. It is also important to remember that these aspects of marketing still speak how your brand is presented to your customers. So if by removing too much you are unable to provide secure and quality deliveries, then going overboard with elimination is even more detrimental to your business. Going green is a multi-pronged strategy that ultimately may take several trials and errors before finding a financially and environmentally sustainable solution.

Make the Switch to Recycled Materials

If you aren’t already, choosing to source as much of your materials as possible from recyclables will also help you cut down on pollution caused by the paper industry. There are several eco-friendly options for almost any time of packing materials, From biodegradable packing peanuts to mushroom or seaweed packaging and organic fabrics. Additionally, you will be simultaneously supporting another business following a sustainably green mission in efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ship in Bulk as Often as Possible

Once you have established how much you can easily eliminate while still providing value to customers, you can consider some new opportunities to save even more. Depending on your business, shipping items in bulk may be another viable way to reduce you and your patron’s carbon footprints. Zero Waste Cartel makes bamboo toothbrushes and only sells them in packages of ten, thereby encouraging customers to plan purchases efficiently and perhaps collaborate and share orders. 

Source: Gwen Lewis

Give Customers Options at Checkout

People are often more ready than you think to subconsciously support positive environmental efforts if the option is presented to them. Alternatively, you can make the choice for them by requiring them to opt-out of a more sustainable option for faster shipping. This might make them a lot more aware of their impact and more conscious of their decisions in other aspects of life as well. Very similar to the strategy many restaurants employ where are they no longer giving out straws unless you explicitly ask for them. Grocery stores like Aldi are known for not offering single-use plastic bags at checkout and only provide reusable bags for a small fee in an effort to boost awareness and encourage sustainable practices. The eCommerce giant, Amazon has been making its own adjustments as it attempts to establish its position as a good, green, corporate entity. People often complain or comment on how things set to arrive on the same day are ordered from the same venue are in multiple packages or many boxes stacked like Russian dolls. Amazon now offers a “deliver in the fewest packages possible” option at checkout for those who may not need things the next day or are tired of dealing with all that excess packaging. 

Give Customers An Opportunity To Return Or Reuse Empty Containers 

Not every great idea will work seamlessly with each business. Some have found a solution to a heavy consumption rate is to give customers the ability to reuse or return empty containers. You might want to jumpstart this initiative by offering small incentives to motivate loyal customers that follow through. The Back-to-Mac recycling program entitles you to a free lipstick when you bring back 6 empty ones for recycling. Another smaller skincare company sells products in reusable glass jars. If they like a product they can send back the jar for a refill or clean it and keep it at home for personal use.

Partner With a Green Shipper

At the current rate shipping emissions could make up 17% of all global CO2 emissions in 2050. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Program provides performance rankings and information for businesses on low-emission freight shipping and transportation companies.

It shouldn’t have to be Earth Day for your business to be committed to improving your relationship with the environment and its customers. Consumer eCommerce trends will continue to influence business decisions and vice versa. Being vocal about their commitment to renewable energy and a zero-emission oriented strategy is one way to show consumers you care. Operating a greener business model and using green shipping strategies: What You Need to Know will help keep both this Earth and your wallet as green as possible.

Gwen Lewis is a writer who lives in California. She has been in the fashion and health industry for years and loves writing on the topic to give tips from experience. In her free time, she loves to stay active and has just taken on learning how to surf. For more, visit her online portfolio here.