We fielded a survey in September to learn from YOU about the state of eco-friendly businesses today - what are you most proud of, excited about and concerned with as we head into a new decade.
What did we learn?
Overall, plastic continues to be one of the main issues and concerns on your mind.
- 15% of you felt that your biggest ecological achievement was moving away from plastic in your business this year
- 51% of you said the minimizing plastic was the most difficult environment challenge your business faces.
- Half of you felt that the rising cultural commitment to eliminating single use plastic was one of the best sustainability trends we’ll see in the next decade.
The definition of “minimizing plastic” did vary in responses. For many of you, it means strictly utilizing natural fibers. Others seem comfortable with biodegradable plastic, despite its downsides and controversy. Others felt that the focus should largely be ending single use plastic, and when plastic is needed, to ensure long-term reusability.
When asked what your greatest ecological achievement has been for your business:
- 31% of you felt it was how you’ve improved your packaging strategy! This was music to our ears.
- 15% of you felt it was that you’re working on minimizing plastics
- 10% of you were proud of reducing waste and increasing the reusability of your business supplies.
- 6% of you were excited to begin donating a portion of proceeds to various environmental and social justice organizations.
When asked about the hardest ecological challenges you are working through as a business:
- 51% of you felt it was minimizing plastic
- 43% of you felt it was understanding which raw materials would be the most eco-friendly (and functional) inputs for our products
- 43% of you felt it was finding a source for the eco-friendly raw materials you need for your products
- 41% of you felt it was minimizing the carbon footprint of shipping, freight and transportation in your business
Several of you did highlight the challenges you face working with a supply chain that isn’t as ecologically minded as you are. "However, our footprint still works out higher than I like because our four primary suppliers still use (unmarked) plastic and mylar to package the things we use as ingredients. I need to either figure out a way to recycle their packaging, or figure out a way to get them to shift."
Overall, you are optimistic about business prospects going forward, which was exciting to see.
What is your level of optimism for your business's prospects in 2020?
Some of you did highlight your concerns about the rising costs of doing business, while others described the importance of balancing business growth with achieving sustainability goals.
"Avoiding wasteful practices is essential to my business philosophy, but that means most traditional routes to growth are off limits. That's ok--getting creative is the way forward."
On the other hand, you are more hesitant when it comes to your confidence in environmental progress.
How optimistic are you that forward progress will be made in key environmental issues in the next decade?
Some of you are hopeful, citing trends of young people today more focused than ever on making conscious, eco-minded choices.
"Greta. And her generation's enthusiasm infecting and reinvigorating mine and other generations to action, this will be our turning point. I hope."
"I see the momentum behind the sustainable-focused younger generations; there is hope once the older generations are no longer in power."
Others were far more concerned, citing the critical role that the US government must play in achieving lasting change.
"Government regulation and industry remain the biggest factors here and I don’t have much faith in a capitalist system."
"Not at all confident under the current US administration. I’m somewhat optimistic if we see a new administration elected in 2020."
"I really hope it will, but powerful social and political forces still seem dead set against progress. Not sure if they will budge, or be overcome."
Hopefully this emerging group of young people focused on the environment will translate into more and more elected officials committed to these issues as well.
When asked what ecological advancements you are most excited for in the next decade, responses highlighted four trends.
Plastics (cited by 50% of respondents)
There is a trend toward plastic-alternatives in consumer goods, and I think that will become more standard. If we can get major food and drug companies to adopt plastic free products and packaging, I think that would make a big difference.
I think the use of plastic will dramatically decrease.
Renewable Energy (cited by 40% of respondents)
Improvements in solar capture and storage
A shift towards EVs and renewable energy. I hope this will bring down energy costs, but I'm worried that it will increase shipping costs that still rely on antiquated fossil fuels.
Electric transportation. It won't affect my business directly but transportation (and so shipping our product) will be more sustainable.
In the next 10 years I think we will see C02 reduction happening once Trump is gone and agreements returned too, more solar and E-cars. Also lots of innovation in raw material development. However in the next 20-50 years we need cultural change/economic incentives towards LESS consumption and NOT optimistic about that in USA culture.
Culture Change (cited by 10% of respondents)
It seems that sustainability is becoming more of a necessity for new businesses starting off. That trend feels as though it's picking up more and more momentum. I only see it as a great tool for our business. As it stands now, most of our customer base isn't particularly interested in the sustainability aspect of our company, but we're hoping the more education that's out there and the more people begin to care, the more it'll help us out in the long run.
Awareness... creating more conscious consumers. I think it's something we will inspire people to think about and change some simple practices... one step at a time but we will lead by example.
End of Life and Recycling (cited by 10% of respondents)
Better composting processes and better access to city based composting
Materials that can be recycled into itself and truly become cyclical. This creates a more sustainable loop and less dependence on virgin sources. Ending the generation of new materials.
Closed loop recycling of fabric and textile materials
You need even more from EcoEnclose!
When asked what new products and services you want to see from you us, your top cited needs include:
- Different sizes in our existing mailers
- Printed notecards
- Reusable packaging
- Lower print minimums
- Wholesale packaging options
This is great feedback to help us plan for 2020 and we'll keep you posted as we plan for and release new services, including some of these!