Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for a copy of the board game Teotihuacan. Today we will answer the following question: “how do you ship in an environmentally-friendly way?”
Green Environment or Green Wallet? You Don’t Have to Choose One.
Online shopping and quick delivery have become the norm. Unfortunately, the many fantastic advancements of the modern age, and really, the industrial age at large, have not been great for the environment.
A lot of people think that you have to choose between environmentally-friendly business practices and profit. Fortunately, though, this isn’t the case. Sure, you can opt for expensive recycled materials or remodel your business’s inventory management processes from the top down.
But for the vast majority of us mere mortals, there are simple actions that we can take every day that can reduce our eCommerce businesses’ impact on the environment. In fact, we already do most of these at Fulfillrite by default.
We like to use the old 80/20 rule when it comes to the environment. That is to say that 20% of your actions will have 80% of the impact. A handful of thoughtful actions on your part can have an outsized positive impact on the world at large.
7 Simple Ways to Make Your Shipping More Environmentally-Friendly
With this in mind, here are seven simple ways we recommend making your shipping processes more environmentally-friendly. These seven ways to improve your business will have a surprisingly positive impact on the environment and your bottom line. As a bonus, all of these are pretty easy to implement, too!
- Choose freight wisely. Freight shipping emits a lot of greenhouse gases. This is true whether you ship by sea or by air. Even still, shipping inventory by sea is a great way to save money and it’s generally better for the environment too. (It should be noted, however, that there are a few exceptions.)
- Use smaller boxes and pack tightly. Using large boxes to ship small items doesn’t make a lot of sense. You have to fill in the excess empty space with packing supplies. Large boxes take up extra space on delivery vehicles, meaning it also causes postal carriers to waste fuel. Again, like shipping by sea, using small boxes is generally cheaper as well.
- Use less padding when appropriate. When you are shipping items that are not fragile, ship in small boxes, and pack tightly. In doing so, this reduces the amount of padding that is needed to transport goods.
- Consolidate orders into single boxes. Ideally, your items should be stored in the same warehouse so that your fulfillment company can pick and pack orders into a single box. This is less wasteful and also saves money on postage and supplies.
- Use recycled packaging when possible. While recycled packaging is not always economically viable, you should use it when it is.
- Map out your returns process. A lot of times, businesses don’t think through their returns processes. This causes waste and confusion, which is both a business problem and an environmental problem.
- Buy carbon offsets. Purchasing carbon offsets allow businesses to “cancel out” their carbon footprint by investing in renewable energy and other clean technology. This is not perfect and reducing emissions is better than offsetting them. Even still, offsetting emissions is a lot better than nothing!
Environmentally-friendly shipping processes are easier to implement than you think. Not only are you doing something nice for future generations, you’ll probably end up saving money and reducing the complexity of your business at the same time. That’s an all-around win as far as we’re concerned!