Posted on November 9, 2019 12:49 pm

How to make online shopping environmentally friendly

A changing world

Politics isn’t a great place to start with any discussion about retail, candy or more or less anything else, however, in the General Election 2019 it’s now been found that across almost all voter demographics the environment is now a top priority, and the vast majority of Brits now consider climate change to be the biggest threat to humanity.

Extreme weather, bursting rivers, forest fires and rising sea levels have been headline news almost monthly for a few years now, and with climate change protests sweeping the world this year the issue of the environment is one of the most important issues to consumers over all else.

A poll this month by YouGov found that 56% of the UK back going completely carbon neutral by 2030, just 10 years away. Aliya Yule, a co-founder of Labour for a Green New Deal, which campaigned for Labour to adopt the 2030 target, said the polling showed next month’s vote was becoming the UK’s first “climate election”.

In the midst of this backdrop Harvard Business Review found that “Consumers—particularly Millennials—increasingly say they want brands that embrace purpose and sustainability. Indeed, one recent report revealed that certain categories of products with sustainability claims showed twice the growth of their traditional counterparts.” And that “one recent survey 65% said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability”.

With all this being a huge driver behind buying decisions, we ask the question: what can retailers do to be more sustainable and environmentally conscious?

Plastic waste

One huge driver of the decisions people make is the huge public support for reducing plastic use. In a recent public consultation from the UK treasury, there were a massive 162,000 responses which were overwhelmingly supportive of tough measures by the government to curb the use of plastics.

The government has already banned microbeads from cosmetics and introduced a compulsory 5p charge for plastic carrier bags which have huge public support. One other aspect has been the enormous support from the public to reduce the use of single use plastic and straws, with huge brands like McDonalds and Costa Coffee offering alternatives.

For your business, it may be worth investigating ways to reduce plastic that can be cost effective and environmentally friendly in a way that you can highlight your approach to your customers. For example, many retailers are now offering paper bags instead of plastic, or even cardboard boxes for products that were previously in plastic.

There’s now a huge industry for environmentally friendly alternatives to plastic and it’s worth investigating where you could make change to entice and keep socially conscious customers.

Carbon footprint

Many retailers are now investigating other ways to reduce their environmental impact, including looking at switching transporters and suppliers for more carbon neutral options.

A lot of hauliers and logistics providers are starting to offer more environmentally friendly services, with electric vehicles as an example. Those who themselves donate small percentages of their profits to green causes have also seen big payoffs in their revenue and new business.

It might be worth taking a look at all aspects of your business, including energy suppliers and other areas to see if you can change to greener alternatives. Whilst these tend to be marginally more expensive, the payoff often tends to be bigger in terms of new business and revenue.

As the climate emergency continues to hog the headlines and headspace of today’s consumers, it’s worth considering that two thirds of consumers now admit to the environment driving their buying decisions, and if we’re talking cheap but effective marketing then there can’t be many easier ways to take advantage than to take a look at green alternatives.