How To Be More Sustainable As An E-commerce - Ecobuy
How to: Sustainable e-commerce

Sustainable e-commerce. Where is the how to guide for it? How do you integrate sustainability into an already built e-commerce? Living sustainably is as easy as working sustainably, simple changes in work ethic, philosophy and tangible products can transform your e-commerce into an eco-friendlier one. It’s more of a question of how and why.

The increase in parcel traffic directly corresponds to the increase in use of single waste plastics, whether this be in the form of plastic bags, packing tape or packing peanuts – to name a few. These create upwards of millions of tonnes of plastic being left in landfills and in our water, affecting our marine life, only a third of plastic waste produced is recycled correctly. Consequently, due to the influx of e-commerce sales as a result of the impact of Covid-19, a large sum of plastic waste produced directly stems from these online sales.

Now, here is the ultimate how to guide in creating a more sustainable e-commerce.

1. Revise your philosophy

Figure out why you want to transform your e-commerce business to be more sustainable. What’s your company’s ethos and path of work? Allowing your team to be involved in this process enables them to understand the vision of the company and their intentions.

Once you’ve figured this out, let your consumers know your company’s philosophy to allow them to understand how they are supporting you and sustainable living.

2. Ditch the plastic

Easily swap out plastic packaging with cardboard, paper tape, water-soluble plastics and biodegradable packing peanuts. You’ll find that the structural integrity remains the same and you’ll be helping out the planet bit by bit.

“Hero Packaging” was curated by Anaita and Vik in order to decrease their single-use plastic packaging and allow other businesses to thrive sustainably. Located in Sydney, Australia, they have saved over 3,000,000 plastic mailers from entering the planet and on average send out approximately 4,000 compostable mailers out every day.

Swap out plastic with:

  • Compostable mailers (Hero Packaging, Ekopak)
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Edible or biodegradable packing peanuts (PuffyStuff)
  • Paper tape
  • Water-soluble plastics
  • Recycled newspaper and paper


compostable packaging

3. Emailed receipts

Possibly one of the easiest ways to reduce waste is to swap out physical invoices and receipts with emailed receipts. Having the printable option of a return label sent directly to their email address reduces the excess waste created. This is because as not all consumers actually decide to return their products.

email receipt

4. Sustainable shipping

Often, many companies offer free shipping over an $x number of products purchased, this is an incentive for consumers to not only buy more products but also benefits the company in decreasing the amount of packaging they use in order to send these products. By bundling larger orders into singular parcels, it offsets the carbon emissions made when being shipped to their respective destinations. Also, offering a discounted shipping fee to domestic and local areas, this too decreases the e-commerce business’s carbon footprint as less energy is used to transport parcels of smaller distances.

Sustainable shipping through:

  • Offering pickup or click & collect services to local businesses
  • Free/discounted shipping incentives for larger and local orders
  • Bundling products into singular packages
5. Sourcing products locally

Understanding where and how your products are produced helps elevate the quality of your products as well as how sustainable they are being produced. Although it is evident that imported goods from international manufacturers are much cheaper, higher quality goods may be easily produced locally. Digging a little deeper into local manufacturers reduces your carbon footprint by a mile as the transit time decreases exponentially and thus, reducing the carbon emissions omitted into the environment.

Food based e-commerce?

  • Locally sourced produce from farmer’s markets
  • Make the products at home/inhouse
  • Source produce in bulk from interstate farms

Retail based e-commerce?

  • Purchasing and working with local manufacturers allow you to see how your products are being made
  • Reduces travel time to receive these products → Decrease in carbon emissions

Service based e-commerce?

  • Workshops and classes can be schedules through virtual meetings. This lessens the need to use central heating and cooling systems, electricity and emissions made from the commute of consumers
  • Provide information via the use of e-books and online platforms to reduce the waste produced, this also allows your business to thrive as you cut costs on the production process
6. Education

Informing your consumer about how they can also be conscious of their habits can result in amazing results! By including a tab onto your e-commerce website with a plethora of resources on how they can contribute to a sustainable planet. This allows consumers to be aware of what they are doing and how they can help.

How to educate:

  • Tips and tricks into changing daily habits (Using metal straws, reusable bags etc)
  • A how to guide on how to correctly recycle and reuse the company’s products
  • Donating 10% of profits to charitable causes and explaining how these causes improve our planet (Greenpeace fund and Ocean Conservancy to name a few)

Reduce, reuise, recycle and repeat

E-commerce sustainability isn’t all too difficult once you figure out what works with your business and your philosophy. Understanding how and why you should transform your e-commerce into an eco-friendlier way benefits not only you and the planet but also a conscious consumer. This how to guide provides a basis into the development of your sustainable e-commerce.

Take a charge, take a chance and change!