Simple Switches for a More Sustainable Shopify Store

Simple Switches for a More Sustainable Shopify Store

The modern day consumer cares more than ever about making sustainable shopping choices. It’s no longer enough for brands to make a modest attempt to go eco-friendly – customers expect to see a significant and authentic strategy in place when it comes to reducing environmental impact.

For many businesses, going green can feel a little intimidating – they’re concerned about “getting it wrong” or accusations of green-washing. Get it right, and you’ll win the hearts and minds of the conscious consumer. Get it wrong, and you’ll feel their wrath on social media.

This fear leads to many brands keeping quiet about the changes they are implementing (a phenomenon known as “green-hushing”). While the planet still benefits from unpublicized positive changes, these brands could be setting the standard for others to follow in their footsteps, and it's a shame to miss out on this amplified positive impact.

So – in the hopes that we’ll encourage a few more brands to up their game when it comes planet friendly ecommerce – here are a few ideas to get you started on a greener, cleaner Shopify sales path.

Green From the Get-go

The good news is that, if you’re selling on Shopify, you’re already on one of the most environmentally sound ecommerce platforms around. Shopify uses carbon neutral hosting for stores, and ensures that orders sent around peak online shopping periods (such as BFCM and the holidays) are carbon offset. They also invest in a sizable sustainability fund, and work with cutting edge climate tech entrepreneurs to help develop better carbon capture and offsetting technologies. So well done – you’re off to a great start already!

Work on Your Return Rate

Returns are a huge contributor to the carbon impact of ecommerce. Not only do goods need to be transported for additional miles, but many of these miles are in built-up, urban areas (“last mile” transportation), increasing emissions in areas where congestion and air quality are already poor. 

Reducing returns can be achieved in many ways. Discourage your customers from buying the same item in multiple sizes with the intention of returning all but the best-fitting item (a common practice, especially when free returns are offered, known as “bracketing”). Educate customers about the environmental impact of their decision, charge for returns, implement AI-powered try on services for clothing, or simply improve customers’ ability and confidence when it comes to selecting the perfect products first time around. 

Be sure to reduce or eliminate those returns necessitated by inaccurate order fulfillment by using a dependable packing list solutions such as Orderly Print.

Incorporate Resales

Younger generations are increasingly embracing second hand shopping. This doesn’t need to spell disaster for your brand’s sales. If you’re selling a recognizable branded product, opening up an official channel for pre-loved items shows your commitment to sustainability while ensuring you continue to see a portion of profit from the resale of your products. Check out Recurate, an app that helps Shopify brands take control of their resale market.

Watch Your Digital Carbon Footprint

We tend to think of carbon emissions as only tied to the physical footprint of our operations – but our digital footprint also as an impact and counts towards our total carbon contributions. Check out the carbon footprint of your store using Digital Beacon (hosting on Shopify will help, as previously mentioned!) and be conscious of your use of auto-play videos and excessive social media content. 

Embrace Digital Paperwork

Many of your customers will want an invoice for their purchase – but how many of them need this information printed on a piece of paper? Make the switch to digital Shopify invoices and you’ll never look back. Additionally, by automating delivery of paper-free digital invoices, you can reduce your support request burden (reducing your digital carbon footprint further!). And added bonus of using Order Printer Templates for your digital paperwork? For every custom template you purchase, we’ll plant a tree.

Highlight Delivery Choice Impact

Finally, we’ve become so used to next day delivery being offered that we rarely stop to think about its impact. Educate your customers about the additional carbon cost of same or next day delivery. Many will be happy to wait an extra day if they know how much more efficient the delivery will be, so let your customers know how much carbon they could save by choosing two or three day delivery options for non-urgent orders. Offer a dependable and well-considered “click and collect” service if you also operate a physical store, and work with a solution that helps optimize your local delivery routes to minimize these last-mile emissions.


Just getting started with Shopify? Check out our free ebook for tips and tricks that will get you off to a great start.

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