How to Introduce Sustainability Into Your DTC Business

Sustainability may be a big ecommerce buzzword these days, but you heard it here first: it’s a movement, not a trend. ♻️

Think about the positive impact sustainability has on the planet and your brand’s bottom line (hello, Patagonia!). Its current popularity is totally justified.

Here’s why:

  1. eCommerce waste hurts the environment
  2. Conscious consumers still want to spend and are 4x more likely to buy from a company and 4.5x more likely to spread the word about a company with a strong purpose
  3. Going green means cutting down on costs

Sustainability is here to stay, so how can you get your brand on board? The good news is you don’t need to overhaul everything overnight.

Here are five ways to introduce sustainability into your DTC business:

💰 Tip 1: Contribute sales to an eco-friendly org or cause

This is probably the easiest first move to make! It instantly generates consumer goodwill during checkout and doesn’t impact your operations.

Whether you donate 1% of your annual sales to environmental nonprofits like sparkling water brand Aura Bora or use part of your profits to plant trees like apparel brand Tentree, aligning your brand with a bigger cause will make customers feel good about how they’re spending.

🌍 Tip 2: Offset your carbon emissions with credits

Another smaller tweak you can make is to offset your carbon emissions through a partner like Pachama or Neutrl.

You can either factor credits into your product pricing or allow your customers to opt into the program during the checkout process (it generally adds $1-2 extra to their order).

🚚 Tip 3: Reduce returns

When consumers buy products online, there’s often an element of uncertainty that leads to de-risking behavior (like ordering multiple sizes of one sweater or a bunch of candles to sniff test them).

Unfortunately, bigger orders = more delivery trucks on the road, and more returns = more gas emissions.

What can you do to cut down on the back and forth? Here are a few ideas for boosting consumer confidence:

  • Adding a comprehensive fit guide, product videos, or photographs of models wearing multiple sizes to your PDP
  • Asking people for their height/size when they leave a review
  • Allowing customers to keep or donate their returns

📦 Tip 4: Update your product packaging and shipper boxes

A bigger change to consider: using recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable materials to mail and store your products. A few brands to look to for inspiration:

  • Hello Bello’s diaper bundle boxes can be upcycled into toys for babies and toddlers.
  • Reformation’s apparel gets shipped in 90% post consumer recycled paper mailers printed with soy-based inks.
  • Rare Beauty’s shipper box, welcome card, and tissue is made from recycled fiber, and they use compostable packing foam made from corn that dissolves with water.

♻️ Tip 5: Offer a recycling program

It’s sad, but it’s true: a lot of your products are currently either chilling in the back of someone’s closet or, worse yet, sitting in a landfill.

The good news is that DTC businesses are starting to offer recycling programs where customers can mail in or drop off used items, often in exchange for a store credit or percentage off their next purchase:

  • Bombas will send you a Take Back Bag that holds up to 10 lbs of clothing; when you mail your used items you get a $10 credit!
  • With Parade’s program, Second Life, you can mail in any pair of underwear from any brand for a Parade credit and they will recycle it for you.
  • Rothy’s lets you bring your old shoes back to their retail locations for a $30 credit.

Recycling programs like these are a total win; your customers get to declutter their space, and you get to save money on materials.

Just remember:

🤔 When you’re thinking about how to introduce sustainability into your DTC business, everything doesn’t have to happen overnight.

Start making small changes, see how your website visitors and customers react to your new do-gooder mission, and lean into it if it makes financial sense (or if it makes you feel like wearing spandex and fighting environmental crime). Either way, we won’t judge. 🦸

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