How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your eCommerce

  • Reducing the carbon footprint of your eCommerce should be a priority. We share with you some initiatives to achieve this.

  • E-commerce has had a significant impact on everything around us. It has changed our way of buying and selling, created new business models, and completely revolutionized commerce.
    But this impact, which is broadly positive, also has implications that are not so positive. Any activity carried out by an individual or a company produces a CO2 footprint.
  • 3 Ways to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your eCommerce

  • A quick note to clarify concepts: the carbon footprint refers to the amount of greenhouse gases produced as a result of an activity

    This includes direct actions, such as the CO2 emitted by vehicles carrying goods, as well as indirect actions, such as the energy required to produce a consumer good.
    It's worth mentioning that eCommerce is generally more eco-friendly than physical retail. Why? Mainly because it is more efficient in terms of facility maintenance. A physical store requires lighting, heating, cooling, and daily stock deliveries.
    To give you an idea: according to data from the Ministry of Industry, there are 541,464 establishments in Spain, so multiply the tons of CO2 emitted by a single store by that number.
    However, eCommerce is also polluting, and we need to reduce the carbon footprint of our online store. We can do this by following these tips.
  • #1 - Optimize Resource Usage

  • There are things that may seem small but have a real and direct impact on the carbon footprint of your online store. We are referring to those resources you consume every day.
    For example, packaging should always be made of recycled and recyclable materials. This includes fillers used to protect products inside the boxes. There are excellent alternatives based on cellulose or plant fibers. Having recycled cardboard boxes won't be of much help if they are filled with plastics.
    Using only the necessary packaging is another measure you can take. If we use an excessively large box, it requires extra protection for the product, leading to more material consumption and additional storage and shipping space. All of this has an impact on resource usage that generates CO2.
    The online store itself doesn't need physical space, but it consumes resources such as electricity. Make sure the hosting company uses clean energy to keep your server running.
    Of course, consider teleworking to reduce travel-related carbon footprint. If you have an office or any facilities like a warehouse, do the same and use green energy (and if possible, install solar panels for an even better outcome).
  • #2 - Use Green Logistics

  • Undoubtedly, the most polluting activity associated with eCommerce is logistics.
    Online sales have increased the number of shipments and, consequently, the number of logistics centers consuming resources and vehicles running on fossil fuels by land, sea, and air. This aspect is one of the first areas where we need to focus on.
    On our part, we need to minimize the internal shipments. Try to centralize pickups destined for the warehouse and keep them to the essential ones only.
    If you manage your own logistics base, it's important that:

    • The warehouse is well located to minimize travel distances.
    • The vehicles you use for delivery are sustainable (electric or gas-powered, for example).
    • Optimize delivery routes efficiently to avoid unnecessary or empty trips. There are tools that can assist you with this automatically.
    All of this applies to the use of third-party logistics providers (3PL) as well. Inquire about their practices and sustainability measures as they will significantly impact the carbon footprint of your eCommerce.
  • #3 - Sustainable Raw Materials and Products

  • Last but not least, the third point should actually be the first. Your products should be manufactured using sustainable materials.
    To achieve this, monitor your supplier's processes to ensure good practices, and, importantly, use locally sourced materials and resources.
  • It may be tempting and more cost-effective to turn to suppliers in China or India, but they have more relaxed environmental and social impact standards. Moreover, bringing those products to Europe generates a significant carbon footprint through logistics.
  • How do you reduce the carbon footprint of your eCommerce? Do you have any additional tips to share? Let us know!

  • Images | Unsplash.

Miguel Nicolás

Miguel Nicolás O'Shea is a life-long copywriter (more than 15 years working in agencies) and a specialist in Search Marketing (SEO and PPC). From now on, he will contribute with his online marketing experience to Oleoshop, publishing regularly.

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