Earth Day 2021 is almost on us. The past year has brought so much disruption, uncertainty and tragedy. For many people and businesses, COVID-19 pulled some attention away from environmental efforts as we sought to keep our families, loved ones and team members healthy and safe. Many businesses struggled to manage losses in sales or spikes in demands, supply chain disruptions, shipping challenges, funding constraints, and shortages in workers and resources.
Perhaps Earth Day (and all of Earth Month) can bring us much needed hope and a renewed commitment to the environment, even if this focus has faltered in these past twelve months. Through that lens, we are particularly excited about this year’s theme of Earth Day - Restore Our Planet - which really is a call for action and optimism.
So as we look forward to April, how can ecommerce businesses embrace this month of strengthened environmental commitment? Here, we offer nine tips.
- Clarify, improve and promote the best end of life options for your products: Look at everything you sell and ask yourself what your customers will do with those goods at the end of their useful life. Can you do anything to extend their useful life (through a repairs program), take back your products, or incentivize donating or responsible recycling of your goods? Add guidance and QR codes where you can to encourage the right end of life steps.
- Clarify and promote the optimal end of life for your packaging: Similarly, look across all of your product and shipping packaging and identify ways packages an be reused and the optimal end of life scenario for each. Then make that clear on every one of your packages. Consider an incentive program that rewards customers who show you (via social media) that they responsibly dispose of your packaging.
- Seek out improvements to your supply chain and sourcing: Start by creating an internal bill of materials for your products that specifies the materials, specifications, and suppliers for each input. Here is a link to ours for reference. Document things like recycled content levels, where and how raw materials are grown, certifications or proof of ethical labor practices in your suppliers, countries of origin, etc. This exercise will help you identify gaps in your own knowledge about your supply chain and uncover ways you can make your goods more eco-friendly and ethical.
- Improve waste management at your company: If you don’t already have compost available at your facility for food waste, this is an awesome first step. If you do, another valuable step is to catalog your most common hard to recycle waste (such as batteries, electronics, toner, etc) and create an easy process for workers to responsibly dispose of or recycle these goods.
- Donate to a relevant organization: Find a non-profit organization that is aligned with your company’s mission and look for ways to support them - through time, monetary donations, a co-branded product line, fundraising efforts, and more.
- Invest in carbon offsets: Measure the carbon footprint of one concrete aspect of your company - a product, your shipping, your energy consumption, the commute of your employees, etc. Then work with a reputable organization to offset these carbon emissions through a well vetted and long-term offset project.
- Execute a cleanup: Organize a company and/or community cleanup. This can be as a collective group, or as a socially distanced independent activity that your group does at the same time. Have people measure and catalog what they find to help build broader awareness of the type of waste that frequently becomes litter.
- Plant a company garden: A thriving, healthy garden offers a myriad of ecological benefits for biodiversity, reduction in food miles, and (depending on the type of garden you create) healthier and more robust soils.
- Support relevant legislation and/or engage in community initiatives: Across the nation, local efforts range from legislation aimed at curbing single use packaging to investing in more robust recycling infrastructure to establishing a healthy compost operation to bringing more renewable energy to public buildings. Look for ways to get involved and push for the changes you want to see in your community.
As you consider taking one or more of the above steps, check out our exciting Earth Day 2021 Promotions, aimed at helping businesses of all sizes showcase their eco efforts.