Australian consumers are now more informed than ever about the planet’s environmental fragility and according to Nielsen, this is impacting where they choose to shop. As consumers become more environmentally conscious and large corporations increasingly weigh in on the climate change conversation, the pressure on retailers of all shapes and sizes to do the right thing is mounting.

Knowing where to start can be a challenge, and there is plenty of misinformation out there which suggests that being a green retailer costs more money. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. When we launched Sendle we built our business around our unwavering commitment to the environment — not only is every parcel we send 100% carbon neutral and competitively priced but acting sustainably is a key factor in all areas of our operations.

We’ve learnt a lot since day one and want to share 5 ways you can start acting greener without eating into your profit margins.

1. Opt for low-impact packaging

One of the biggest consumer concerns with online shopping is the extraordinary amount of packaging that ends up in landfill.

There are many alternatives to support the war on plastic — from corrugated cardboard boxes and  packing paper, to water dissolvable packing peanuts made from cornstarch and even mushroom packaging, a 100% biodegradable replacement to polystyrene.

Another great example is compostable satchels (made from worm-friendly corn starch and PBAT) that can easily replace traditional plastic poly mailer bags — and they’re low cost.

2. Partner with like-minded suppliers

When choosing who to work with, select companies that share your passion for the environment. A little research goes a long way and there are eco-friendly alternatives for almost everything on your checklist — from the toilet paper you buy, to who you bank with, to which super fund you use, and who does your marketing. Creating an ecosystem of partners that not only understand your business but also act in the best interest of the planet enhances the efforts you’re making with your own products.

3. Light up with renewable energy

Lessening your business’ reliance on traditional coal-generated energy sources will not only slash your monthly bill but boost your green credentials. GreenPower is an accredited program that makes it easier for small businesses to support renewable energy, without changing your supplier or undergoing installation procedures. There are a growing number of Australian businesses that are helping to support Australia’s renewable energy sector by displacing 50% or more of their annual electricity consumption with GreenPower.

4. Share what you’re doing with your customers

If your customers say they prefer to shop with green businesses, then you need to be vocal about the efforts you’re making behind the scenes to help protect the environment. Use your website, social media and marketing channels to be loud and proud about your sustainable practices. Add a carbon-neutral badge to your packaging and online store, use Instagram to tell stories about your attendance at climate strikes or outline the steps you’re taking to reduce plastic.

5. Partner with a carbon neutral delivery service

As online shopping continues to explode it’s estimated that by 2025 the global parcel volume will reach 200 billion (over double what it was in 2017).  Delivery is the final step of your supply chain and can be the greatest contributor of carbon emissions for online retailers – over 10% of global CO2 emissions come from the transport and logistics industry. By choosing a carbon neutral courier service you’ll fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, offsetting your business’s carbon footprint.

By making a few minor changes to your business operations you can develop a sustainable plan that will lessen your environmental impact, save money and win over green conscious customers.

James Chin Moody is CEO and co-founder of Sendle