Every April, we’re reminded of our responsibility to love our mother. No, I’m not talking about Mother’s Day. I’m talking about Earth Day, which comes each year on April 22.
As entrepreneurs and online sellers, we can pitch in to help the planet by incorporating sustainable business practices into our companies.
Going green isn’t just about saving the planet though. Just as we see with other mission-aligned marketing messages like Made in America, green messaging can impact our bottom lines.
Consumers Want to Buy From Sustainable Businesses
In its Global Corporate Sustainability Report in 2015, Nielsen found something interesting:
- 66% of consumers said they would pay more for products from sustainable businesses .(That was up from 55% the previous year.)
But if you think that the planet is only a young person’s concern, you’re a bit off the mark.
The same study found that…
- 73% of Generation Y and 72% of Generation Z would also give up more of the green for green businesses.
- 51% of baby boomers said they’d also pay more for products from sustainable businesses.
The key to tapping into this willingness to pay more is to ensure that the audience is aware of your sustainability efforts. You can do this by sprinkling the message into your standard marketing efforts – social media, email marketing, etc.
You can also tell your story by highlighting sustainability claims at the point of purchase. A green business icon or short sustainability statement on your ecommerce product pages and physical packaging can help you close the deal.
Sustainable Business Practices for Online Sellers
Now that we’ve established the financial impact of sustainability, let’s talk about how to do it.
Here are a few tips for building a sustainable business.
1. Work From Home
If you’re running a home-based business, you’re already helping the planet.
You’re keeping your car off the road and you’re not paying to heat, cool, and light a separate workspace. (Of course, if working from home makes you a little batty, you can always pop into your local coworking space.)
2. Reduce Shipping Packaging Waste
Shipping is an integral part of any online business. And, unfortunately, shipping creates a ton of waste.
We can cut down on the impact by shipping our products in recycled boxes filled with shredded scrap paper and junk mail instead of new boxes stuffed with packing peanuts or bubble wrap.
3. Encourage Buyers to Select Standard Delivery
It’s not just all the cardboard that makes shipping problematic. There’s also the fuel it takes to move the product from your garage to your customers’ houses.
Online purchases generate less pollution than a trip to the mall, but expedited delivery negates this because it requires air travel. Educate your buyers on the environmental benefits of standard delivery during the checkout process.
4. Request a FREE Home Energy Assessment
Many local utility companies will assess the energy efficiency of your small business, even your home-based business, at no cost. The auditors will outline potential fixes, some of which may qualify for a deduction when it’s time to pay your taxes.
5. Run Appliances When Electricity Is Cheaper
Speaking of your local utility company, a lot of the cost and environmental impact of a home-based business is electricity. Some utility companies offer time-of-use plans to encourage folks to conserve during parts of the day that see higher demand.
Program your thermostat and run your major appliances when electricity is cheaper.
Want more sustainability tips? Check out our list of 10 green business tips.