Are you currently looking for ways to do your part to combat the climate crisis? If the answer is yes, look no further.

In an age when environmental concerns are at the forefront of global discussions and affect us all, more and more consumers are favoring sustainable eCommerce businesses over their competitors. 

Fortunately, there are various strategies you can use to reduce your business's carbon footprint and operate more sustainably. 

In this article, we're exploring eight changes you can implement to have an eco-friendly business that thrives and positively impacts the environment. Let's dive right in!


1. Green Hosting

According to research, the IT sector will use 20% of all electricity produced by 2025 and emit around 5.5% of global carbon emissions. Sure, a singular website's carbon footprint doesn't make that much difference, but it adds up. 

You can opt for green hosting if your online store is self-hosted (rather than using a hosted eCommerce platform). This way, you can do your part to ensure your website doesn't add to this shocking statistic. 

When choosing a green managed hosting provider, it's important to scrutinize their energy source. Look for companies that: 

  • Prioritize renewable energy to power their data centers
  • Invest in renewable energy projects
  • Offset their carbon footprint through renewable energy certificates (RECs)

In addition, analyze whether the infrastructure and technologies they use are eco-friendly. This includes cooling systems, servers, and data centers that are energy efficient, reducing energy usage. 

Most importantly, ensure the green hosting provider you go for is transparent about its carbon emissions, energy usage, green certifications, and green initiatives. You can usually access this information through their website. 

Serious green hosting providers that value accountability typically participate in third-party audits verifying their sustainability commitment. Therefore, request all this information before making any final decisions. 


2. Energy-Efficient Web Design

If you're operating an eco-friendly business, your web design should reflect your commitment to sustainability. 

Energy-efficient web design begins with optimizing the code and resources you use to build and maintain your website. This includes taking steps such as removing unnecessary comments, whitespace, and redundant code, as well as compressing images and multimedia content. 

A responsive website design optimized for mobile devices is also crucial to ensure your website is energy efficient. If your store uses a responsive website template, you won’t need to make any adjustments to accomplish this.

These steps guarantee a great user experience and reduce the energy required for rendering. 

Reducing the amount of data that needs to be transferred to your customer's device can improve your website's loading speed and user experience while also minimizing the energy required to transmit this data.


3. Sustainable Product Sourcing

If your online business sells physical products, you must ensure that the materials you buy to make your product are sustainably sourced. 

Sustainable product sourcing starts with ensuring your suppliers prioritize the environment from beginning to end. This includes making sure that:

  • Raw materials are harvested or produced sustainably
  • Renewable energy sources are used where necessary
  • Carbon emissions and environmental impacts are minimized throughout the supply chain

Look for certifications such as SDA Organic, Fair Trade, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). This way, you can rest assured that your suppliers use sustainable practices and meet the required environmental and social standards. 

Prioritizing sourcing products from local producers and artisans is an excellent way to go about it. You not only reduce the huge emissions associated with transporting raw materials, but you can also physically check that these local producers walk the walk. 

Speaking of raw materials, you also need to ensure that the materials you buy are of a high standard. This impacts your product's lifespan, directly influencing whether your customer throws your product away after a few months or can enjoy it for at least a few years. 


4. Eco-friendly packaging

Undoubtedly, one of eCommerce's most significant environmental impacts of eCommerce is the large amount of energy and resources spent on product packaging and its disposal. 

If you're setting up or transitioning into a sustainable eCommerce business, investing in eco-friendly and biodegradable packaging materials and reducing the amount of packaging altogether is a no-brainer. 

Choose minimalist and smaller package shapes and sizes depending on your product — without the extra pizazz that increases waste. 

Another valuable initiative is to re-purpose materials you may already use to run your business as packaging. For instance, if you run a jewelry business, you probably receive shipments of supplies in cardboard boxes with lots of packing peanuts and bubble wrap. Instead of throwing all this away, reuse these materials to ship your own products. 

Given that 28% of all US garbage comes from packaging, doing all this is already a monumental step that shows first-hand environmental commitment to your customers. 


5. Carbon-Neutral Shipping Solutions

Shipping is a massive contributor to global carbon emissions. If you're running a product-based eCommerce business, it's part and parcel of your business. However, you can still take certain measures to ensure you're as eco-friendly as possible. 

Offsetting shipping-related carbon emissions by partnering with shipping companies that offer carbon offset programs is an excellent way to mitigate this issue. 

You can also show your commitment to sustainability by donating part of your earnings to renewable energy initiatives or environmental conservation projects. 

Depending on the company you run, you can also explore options such as electric vehicles, bicycle couriers, or solar-powered delivery drones as shipping alternatives that are also environmentally friendly.


6. Day-to-Day Initiatives 

In eCommerce, sustainability initiatives need to go beyond just the product. The way you run your business on a day-to-day basis is also essential in your mission to reduce your company's carbon footprint. 

Remote Work

According to a study conducted by PNAS, people who work remotely four or more days a week can reduce their personal carbon footprint by around 54%. Therefore, encouraging your employees to work remotely is a good way to minimize the emissions associated with transport — including fuel and vehicle emissions — and having an office or centralized workspace. 

Paperless Workflows

Transitioning to paperless workflows and customer management systems is a great way to reduce paper waste. By digitizing documents, opting for electronic signatures, setting up cloud-based document storage, and writing tasks on a digital workspace tool, you have a more efficient system and rely less on paper. 

Small Actions, Big Impact

In addition to all of this, there are various small measures that, when combined, significantly impact your carbon footprint. Even things like: 

  • Turning off devices when not in use
  • Enabling power-saving features
  • Taking energy efficiency into account when purchasing new devices

Even switching off the light in a room you're not using may seem like a no-brainer, but it actually makes a big difference in making you and your business more environmentally friendly. 


7. Green Marketing and Branding

Your marketing and branding efforts are essential in communicating that you're an eco-friendly business. Not only that, but it also helps attract customers that align with your green values. 

Emphasize your commitment to the environment through your website content, social media channels, and offline marketing materials. Highlight the eco-friendly elements of your business, such as carbon-neutral shipping, green hosting, and eco-friendly packaging. Ask your customer base to provide feedback on other initiatives you can implement to commit to green eCommerce further. 

Avoid greenwashing. This not only comes across as inauthentic, but it also wards off potential customers and waters down your real efforts. Instead, focus on the concrete steps you're taking to address the climate crisis. 

You also need to practice what you preach. This includes holding yourself accountable and being transparent with your customer base. 

Ensure you include key information on your website, such as raw material sources, disposal practices, third-party environmental audits, certifications, and standards. 

This makes it easier for current and potential customers to see that you actually practice what you preach.

Lastly, ensure that any promotional or printed material is printed using soy-based inks or water-based coatings on recycled paper. There's nothing worse than promoting yourself as an eco-friendly business and then not taking the necessary steps to cut down on promotional waste. 


8. Carbon Offsetting Initiatives

Let's face it — despite your best efforts, it may not always be possible for your eCommerce business to be 100% carbon neutral. That’s where carbon offsetting comes in.

Carbon offsetting is all about compensating for your carbon emissions by investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are various initiatives that you can get involved in. These include renewable energy projects, reforestation projects, methane capture and destruction projects, and so much more.

Before investing in a carbon offsetting initiative, make sure that the initiative you're considering meets the rigorous standards and criteria set by international institutions so that it actually offsets carbon emissions. 

Look for certifications from third-party institutions like Verified Carbon Standard (VCS), Gold Standard, and Climate Action Reserve (CAR). This way, you can rest assured that you've opted into a genuine project that's making a real difference. 


Moving Forward With an Online Eco-Business

Having a green eCommerce business is no walk in the park. Establishing, or even transitioning into, an eco-friendly business requires a personal commitment to sustainability and the willingness to minimize the environmental impact of your business. 

With new information about the climate crisis coming to light, it's crucial to stay informed about the latest developments in the eco-friendly space. 

Whether it's alternative packaging methods or new energy-efficient devices, there are always new opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint, make a positive environmental impact, and transform your business. 

After all, embracing the innovation that comes with running a sustainable eCommerce business is not just good for the environment — it's just good for business.