Sustainable shipping 101
The true cost of online shopping
At some point, we’re going to stop calling it “online shopping” because it’s so common, and going out to browse the shops will have a special name. The shift to shopping online was so quick, that 165 BILLION packages are now shipped every year in the US. That’s 5,000 per second! We’re very good about recycling our cardboard boxes, but those only represent the cost of a shipment that we can see. The hidden costs come in the form of carbon emissions from the manufacture of shipping materials and the transportation of the items shipped.
The World Economic Forum estimates that there will be 36% more delivery vehicles on city streets by 2030, thanks to the ever-increasing demand for last-mile delivery of eCommerce packages.
The most important change SMBs can make: carbon neutral shipping
It’s easy for eCommerce shoppers to overlook their own impact on the environment because they’re staying home instead of driving, and they dutifully break down the boxes everything came in for recycling. But 17% of the world’s carbon emissions come from the shipping and logistics industry, so businesses can affect massive change on their customers’ behalf.
Sendle has shipped 100% carbon neutral from the start. To do this, they calculate the environmental impact of every shipment and offset those carbon emissions by funding sustainability projects and purchasing carbon credits. Customers even get a say each year about how funds are allocated among several worthy projects. Shipping carbon neutrally with Sendle is a simple way for small businesses to fight this trend, and carbon neutral shipping isn’t even Sendle’s ultimate goal. They’ve committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2030, a full 20 years ahead of the Paris Agreement goal.
Set yourself up for sustainable shipping success
Customers notice if it takes a while between when they place their order and when it ships, so it’s important to be ready for orders as they roll in. Every day you lose because you have to run out for supplies means another day your customer waits.
Which isn’t to say you need an entire shipping supply store in your office. Be strategic and think about your best sellers and which items might get ordered, then stock up on packaging that’ll fit. Why is the proper size box important? The price you pay for shipping isn’t just calculated by weight, and you may find yourself paying more than you have to when you use a bigger box. Save even more money when shipping items that aren’t fragile with compostable satchels; they can be taped down so there’s next-to-no extra space used.
Pack with planet-friendly filler
Even with right-size packaging, most shipments will need some filler to protect the goods inside. Inflatable plastic bags are popular because they weigh next to nothing, but the damage single-use plastics do to the environment is hardly worth the convenience.
Fill the empty space in your packages with a protective layer of biodegradable starch peanuts or foam sheets. Customers love them because they dissolve in water, making them exceptionally easy to get rid of. You can also check out new alternatives on the market made from mushrooms or popcorn, or just fill the empty space with shredded cardboard or whole kernels of popcorn. (Just be sure to skip the butter and salt!) These options can all be composted by customers, either in their own compost pile or worm farm, or using their municipal compost service.
Be loud about the environment
Customers want to feel good about their purchases, and Sendle makes it easy to let them know you’re shipping responsibly. Use their pre-written website and email copy, which includes badges to display in your online shop. All for free!
Sustainable shipping isn’t just the best choice for the planet. It’s an affordable way to market your business as responsible and community-oriented, while actually backing up the messaging with tangible action.