Jul 07 , 2022
E-Commerce and sustainability. We rarely hear these two words together with a positive perspective. You will find ample articles and media reporters showing the darker side of trading activities, pointing out how they might be keeping our economies in good shape but are ultimately damaging the environment. As a matter of fact, this can not be denied. Many of our industries are indeed contributing to severe climatic crises and evidence of this can be found everywhere ranging from the cotton textile industry using unhealthy amounts of water and draining toxins in the marine ecosystem to the fashion industry which results in greenhouse gas emissions.
But does trade always have to look like this? Destructive and Dangerous?
The answer is NO because it can be many other things such as sustainable and eco-friendly.
While some of the conventional ways of e-commerce have not been thought out well, sustainable strategies can be explored to make e-commerce more sustainable. This applies to both consumers and those involved in the selling activities. By making small changes to buying habits and your business model, it is possible to make e-commerce more sustainable.
Here is how you can make e-commerce more sustainable as a consumer:
1) Buy in bulk
Purchasing more at a time is not just an incredibly convenient buying strategy that can save you a lot of time but also has its role to play in making e-commerce more sustainable. Here is how:
- Reduces plastic consumption
We all know that so far plastic is considered to be one of the biggest culprits responsible for threatening the sustainability of our planet. So, what other way to make e-commerce more sustainable if not by reducing plastic usage which can be achieved easily when you buy in bulk.
- Less packaging waste
Buying in bulk helps cut down on packaging waste which is also usually mostly plastic, that eventually ends up in landfills and oceans disrupting the ecosystem and all the treasures it contains. The thing about plastic packaging is that it contains a lot of harmful chemicals that leach into water and soil, damaging the environment and the food chain. So at the very least, trying to cut down on this waste should be a priority and bulk buying can help you contribute to this sustainability solution.
- Minimises air pollution
When you buy a lot of items together, you will end up reducing the number of visits made to the store or with online trade, the number of visits delivery trucks have to make to your place. So you will need to travel much less and save the environment all the damage caused by vehicle emissions. Likewise, even if you order online, buying in bulk is going to improve sustainability as the delivery truck will be packed more efficiently and will have to make fewer visits to deliver your parcels, thereby reducing carbon emissions.
- Reduces fuel utilisation
Limiting fuel usage is in itself an excellent sustainability approach which ensures that there are enough resources left for upcoming generations. Unfortunately currently most of the fuel globally is based on non-renewable resources, so in order to make ecommerce more sustainable, it is important that we focus on reducing our fuel usage.
2) Buy from sustainable businesses
What better way to encourage the development of sustainable e-commerce if not by supporting sustainable businesses themselves? Whenever you are going to buy a product, try looking it up online. Do a little bit of research and find out if there are any sustainable brands you can purchase from. If they are available, definitely consider buying from them because by doing so not only will you be purchasing and then using sustainable products, but you will also be supporting sustainable businesses which will eventually lead to the growth in sustainable businesses.
Here are some ways you can contribute to sustainable e-commerce as a business owner:
1) Offer eco-friendly products
The first step toward setting up a sustainable e-commerce business is to offer eco-friendly products. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that the planet is not harmed by your activities. So try to use sustainably sourced raw materials, limit wastage of all kinds, and when required partner only with businesses who are sustainable themselves.
In fact, if you're just starting your journey towards sustainability, you can start by collaborating with a sustainable business and then slowly incorporate ecofriendly practices into your business model.
2) Practice your R's: recycle and reuse
Practicing the Rs religiously is yet another corporate practice you should know by heart. Recycle leftover materials and reuse the ones that can be done so because this will help lower your business carbon footprint. Not only this, doing so can also help cut down your costs by reducing wastage, thereby improving profitability. A win-win situation right?
3) Stick to green shipping practices
Shipping is an essential part of e-commerce which does inevitably lead to carbon emissions in most cases due to vehicle emissions but there are some ways in which shipping too can be made eco-friendly. One way of making this possible would be to encourage your customers to purchase in bulk and order more quantities at one time so that the number of shipments can be reduced. So for example, if they need 2 bottles of a multi-vitamin each month, they might as well just order 12 together which will last them for 6 months. This way instead of ordering each month, they can reduce this to ordering only twice a year.
So these were some of the ways in which e-commerce can be made more sustainable!
Advice to everyone who is trying to be sustainable:
Finally, we would want to remind all those people who are aspiring to contribute to sustainability and all those who are already a long way ahead, to never forget that this sustainability journey will be a long one and at times you may find yourselves stuck in situations where you have to indulge in something that is not entirely good for the planet. Know that it is completely okay, as long as you are mindful of your consumption patterns and willing to bring about a change, you are playing your part in making this planet a better place. Even when it gets intimidating and difficult, remember the cause you are fighting for and know that it is worth it and more!
We hope that this article has proven to be resourceful and has helped you understand how e-commerce can be made sustainable so that while we satisfy our own needs and desires, the upcoming generations and our planet do not have to pay the cost for it.
Keep shining eco-friendly warriors!