With the growing array of choices available for online shoppers it’s never been more important to make yourself aware of ecommerce sustainability.
What is environmental sustainability?
Well, there are a number of definitions. But the United Nations has defined environmental sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
If we all aim to live in a way which reduces damaging impacts to the environment, we will preserve our natural resources for future. This could be as simple as turning off the lights when they are no longer needed. Or using recycled and recyclable products to prevent waste, walking to your friend’s house instead of driving to reduce emissions. Simple swaps in our day to day lives can drastically reduce our impact on the environment and therefore improve environmental sustainability.
Why is ecommerce sustainability important?
More and more of us are buying online rather than in brick-and-mortar shops. This has especially been the case for busy families and more recently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Predictions show that come 2029 online shopping will account for 53% of retail sales.
We have certainly noticed that we are spending more and more time online rather than in a physical shop. So with growing demand comes greater responsibilities for retailers to become more eco-conscious. But why?
Instead of products being boxed together then stocked on a shelf they need to be packaged individually and sent out one by one to customers. That’s the biggest difference for the environment, the extra packaging. Roughly 86 million tons of plastic packaging is produced globally each year.
Eventually, these polystyrene chips and other wrappings have to be disposed of somewhere. Unfortunately, often this waste ends up in our oceans and waterways. Recent research has estimated that in the year 2016 alone approximately 19 to 23 million metric tons of waste entered aquatic ecosystems.
Ecommerce Sustainability at Labels4Kids
Our office building was awarded the Resource Efficiency Pledge – Silver Level. An award backed by the Scottish Government. Businesses across Scotland are aiming to use energy, water and raw materials more efficiently throughout operations. As part of this, all lightening was switched to LED energy efficient options as part of the environmental pledge.
We want to avoid the carbon footprint of returns. Therefore, we provide all the help and support necessary for our customers to make informed decisions and avoid having to return items. That’s why you’ll find all of our item specifications, measurements and notable details on each product page. Our friendly customer services team is always on hand to answer any questions before making any purchases. We want to ensure you’re getting the correct item fit for purpose.
Eco-friendly couriers – sustainable ecommerce
One of the biggest factors in sustainable ecommerce is how products get to customers. Thinking about our environment we use Royal Mail as our main courier. They drive bio-CNG vehicles instead of normal diesel HGV lorries which reduce carbon emissions by 85%. They have been names an industry leader by Dow Jones Sustainability Index too. Not to mention their reduction of electricity by 10 million kWh in the past 5 years.
Avoid plastic where possible
Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to avoid all plastic. But, we’re constantly on the lookout for alternatives where plastic has been replaced with an alternative or removed all together. We’re committed to reviewing our production and delivery regularly.
Recycle, recycle, recycle
We strive to ensure that the resources we use in our offices and during production are as ecologically sustainable as possible. That’s why we recycle all our paper, cardboard, cans, glass and source items made from recycled materials too. We only print what we need to for production. Much of our system is automated to avoid duplication and unnecessary paper waste.
We’ve all been there. An extra-large box arrives making you wonder what you ordered? You open it and after rummaging through you eventually find the small memory card you ordered a week ago. We don’t tolerate excessive packaging given it’s so environmentally wasteful and inconvenient. That’s why we always send our products in the smallest possible packaging solutions to avoid excess.
Flexible working practices
Labels4Kids has always wanted to offer great products at a fair price for customers without compromising on quality. But did you know that we offer flexible working for our staff? We know how important it is to look after our team and that’s why our team have at least one day working from home per week. They can also walk or cycle to work too with a cycle shelter at the front and the office is walk-able for almost all our staff. Also we have a dog friendly office and the park is opposite the office to let them take a leisurely stroll for a break when they need to. Not only does that help to safeguard our employees well being but cuts down on emissions from commuting too. Win for us and a win for the environment too!
Printing materials and ink
The ink for many of our most popular products including our shoe labels and small labels have achieve UL ECOLOGO® Certification and are GREENGUARD GOLD Certified. They do not include nickel like many others, contain no hazard warning labels, contain no Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs),2 are non-flammable and non-combustible.
We know that little changes can make a big difference and that’s why little decisions like where our weekly milk comes from are made with the environment in mind. We know how important leading by example is so from our milkman to our confidential waste collection we try our hardest to keep it local. All our suppliers are UK based too. Not only do we source local products as much as we can but we support local charities and even donate stationery to local schools so it doesn’t go to waste.
Hosting supplier and website settings
Did you know 1.76g of CO2 is emitted on average for every web page view! We optimise our website to load as fast as possible to avoid over use of resources. We even use a server host that has a certified to have a ISO 14001 environmental management system.
How to support sustainable ecommerce?
Choosing responsible websites and making purchases from them is a great way to show your support to businesses who are going the extra mile for the environment. By choosing more ecologically sustainable products you’re encouraging other businesses to follow by showing them this is what you expect. Sharing the work of sustainable/ethical brands across social media platforms is a quick and easy way to show your support too.
Educate your family and friends
Not everyone knows about the benefits of buying from sustainable ecommerce websites. Why not start a discussion with family and friends about the benefits to their purse and the environment? Better still, teach the kids about the importance of buying from responsible websites. That’s a great way to show them how their actions are creating positive changes around the world. As our business name suggests we believe in children and want to make sure they have the same opportunities that we have all had in future generations.
Recycle packing where possible
Sadly, just because something is recyclable doesn’t always mean it gets recycled.
If you’re item has arrived in packaging which is recyclable, please do recycle it to avoid waste entering our oceans or over flowing landfills. Better yet, could you repurpose it for something else before it gets popped into your cardboard bin? Maybe one of the kids could use it in a craft project? Or you might need to send something and you could use this box instead of buying a new one?
Don’t buy into “fast fashion” or single use products if there is an alternative
We don’t want to have to buy the same thing over and over again do we? That’s one of the reasons we find it so important to label items. That way, if you are unlucky enough to misplace something, it’s easier for it to be returned to you.
Avoiding single use items in place of reusable ones is a great step to supporting sustainable ecomerce. Not only are you saving money in the long run but your avoiding unnecessary waste. Likewise, garments which are of poor quality and that won’t last have a big impact on our environment. So, if possible, try to buy good quality items which last longer. Even better, try to look out for garments made of ethical materials such as recycled fabrics or eco friendly dyes.
So, if we want to maintain the health and wellbeing of our earth we really must make the switch to more sustainable ecommerce. That’s why we are to leading by example in the hopes that other ecommerce retailers will follow.
Did you know the children’s society found “that parents with children in state maintained schools spent on average £337 per year on school uniform for each secondary school child and £315 per year for each primary school child.”
Now imagine your child lost half of their school uniform during the school year? That could potentially total up to £168.50 not to mention the environmental implications. Labelling your school uniform is not only good for you bank balance but it’s a great way to improve your environmental sustainability too.
Would you like some more information? We’ve created this handy infographic which can be found here- Infographic