Abstract: Eco-friendly (or sustainable) products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.
Author: Kunal Agrawal
• Eco-friendly (or sustainable) products are those products that provide environmental, social and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.
• Eco-friendly means earth-friendly or not harmful to the environment.
• This term most commonly refers to products that contribute to green living or practices that help conserve resources like water and energy.
• Eco-friendly products also prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution.
• Making a truly eco-friendly product keeps both environmental and human safety in mind. At a minimum, the product is non-toxic.
• Other eco-friendly attributes include the use of sustainably grown or raised ingredients, produced in ways that do not deplete the ecosystem.
• Organic ingredients or materials are grown without toxic pesticides or herbicides.
• Products with “made from recycled materials” contain glass, wood, metal or plastic reclaimed from waste products and made into something new.
• Biodegradable products break down through natural decomposition, which is less taxing on landfills and the ecosystem as a whole.
• About 14 billion pounds of waste end up in our oceans every year, with most of it being plastics.
• 9 in 10 seabirds have ingested plastic and carry it in their stomachs.
• A plastic bottle needs 450-500 years to decompose while the nearly indestructible PET containers will never decompose. (Polyethylene terephthalate, also called PET, is the name of a type of clear, strong, lightweight and 100% recyclable plastic.)
• A plastic bag needs 100 years to biodegrade and less than 1% of the plastic bags we take home from stores are recycled; the rest pile up in landfills or end up in the ocean.
• After plastic is (finally) decomposed it morphs into toxic microplastics.
• The world recycles just 9% of the plastics it produces.
• Plastic bottle production requires 1.5 million barrels of oil every year; more oil is used to transport them around.
• Glass bottles never biodegrade, although they might in millions of years.
• It takes 500 years for a single-use diaper to biodegrade.
• If more people started buying eco-friendly products, pollution would not be so rampant, our plant would have a timeout to breathe and regenerate, and our families and communities would be healthier in the long term.
• Plus, eco-friendly products are not only great for the environment, they are also beneficial for the human health.
• They can make a real difference by enabling us to reduce our environmental footprint, namely the impact our lifestyle and activities have on the environment and global natural resources.
• They help reducing plastic waste; steering clear of single-use packaging and looking for environmentally friendly alternatives is one good place to start.
• They keep our carbon footprint to a minimum i.e., the amount of CO2 emissions released in the atmosphere as a result of our lifestyle choices and activities.
• They can be recycled/ re-used (e.g., stainless steel water bottles, reusable sandwich bags, upcycled handbags, etc.)
• They are compostable (e.g., non-petroleum products, like paper, cardboard, natural fibres)
• They are not resource-intensive: For their production, the water, energy, and resource consumption were kept to a minimum (e.g., organic cotton’s carbon footprint is 46% lower than that of conventional cotton and it requires 62% less energy to produce)
• No harmful pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers were used in their production.
• They are made to last: A durable product means that it will be used many times (and possibly by multiple users) before it gives up the ghost and ends up in a landfill.
• In 2012, 84% of outdated clothes were either dumped in a landfill or burned. The problem is that the waste produced by unwanted pieces of clothing is nearly incalculable. Fast fashion has turned the fashion industry into the world’s second biggest polluter.
• Several fashion brands have been trying to turn their business practices into more sustainable ones. One notable example is H&M, which launched a clothing recycling program 6 years ago. But even though the retail giant has collected over 20,000 tons of unwanted clothing ever since, its efforts are a drop in the ocean.
• So, a more sensible solution is for each of us to wear the clothes we currently own as much as we can or buy only from the brands that are genuinely interested in tackling waste.
• There are a lot of companies (such as Patagonia and Recover) that produce eco-friendly clothing. This clothing is typically made from recycled materials, which provide cost-efficient products to make an even better product. Most manufacturers also use the most environmentally sustainable manufacturing methods possible. They work hard to eliminate the use of dyes and minimize chemical, water, and energy use.
• A stainless-steel water container has numerous advantages over a plastic one. For one, it keeps water cool for hours if it is well insulated and has a large mouth opening for us to add ice cubes if needed. Also, it doesn’t develop a gross smell after a few uses. There’s no need for us to worry about BPA leaks into our liquids. (BPA, aka bisphenol A, is a chemical that has been used in plastic bottle and has health risks such as risk of hormone disruption, heart issues, diabetes, obesity, abnormal brain development in children, and possibly even cancer)
• It is highly reusable and helps minimize plastic waste as we will prevent countless plastic bottles from harming the environment. It is estimated that the beneficial effects on the climate start to show after our stainless-steel water bottle has managed to replace 50 regular water bottles.
A lot of businesses are beginning to create eco-friendly home decor that encourage all natural decorations. Some of the most practical (and stylish) options for all-natural home decor are athangudi tiles, pottery, shower curtains, rugs, clocks, etc. Some other examples are: steel straw pipes, wooden brushes, eco-friendly cutlery, etc.
Recycled Toilet Paper
• It is estimated that an adult uses over 20,000 sheets of toilet paper over one year, and that is a huge amount of cut trees and wasted water. Recycled toilet tissue is made of recycled paper collected through various recycling programs, which means that the paper hasn’t reached the landfill first either.
• Recycled toilet paper is a great alternative to simply buying non-organic toilet paper. It is typically cheaper than the regular kind, and is available from most stores. Especially if there is a young person who tends to use a little too much toilet paper, this product is great to give back to the environment.
• The humble plastic wrap we use in our kitchens can take a heavy toll on the environment in the long run, just like plastic bags. If we need to cover a container in the fridge or wrap food, the eco-friendliest solution is either using tinfoil or an eco-friendly material that is all the rage now: beeswax wrap. Its manufacturers have striven to make the wrap as eco-friendly as it can be and they have succeeded.
• Beeswax wrap is made of 100% organic cotton or recycled paper, organic plant oils, tree resin, and eco-friendly beeswax. It is easy to use as we will only need to wrap up the item and let the warmth of your hands soften the wrap for a few seconds to make it stick. The beeswax wrap can be used many times, is low maintenance, has a nice smell (which unfortunately doesn’t last long), and is 100% compostable.
• Globally, 1 trillion plastic bags are used every year. It is harmful to the environment to produce a plastic bag and it is harmful to the environment to discard and not recycle a plastic bag. Some plastic bags can linger in the environment for hundreds of years.
• What’s more, plastic bags literally kill about 100 marine animals every year, and despite that a plastic bag gets used for just 10-12 minutes on average before being thrown away. So, it is critical to limit our plastic bag use. Whenever, offered a plastic bag think about the environmental impact of such a common item, despite its convenience.
• We can always replace your plastic bags with a reusable bag, jute bags or compostable bags.
• Another big advantage of reusable shopping bags is their customizability. You can personalize such bags by embroidery or printing however you wish. You could also turn them into unforgettable gifts for people that have it all or practical promotional bags for our business.
• Green marketing is the practice of advertising and marketing strategy based on sustainability. These are companies that base their culture and campaigns on environmentally friendly products and services
• Some examples of green marketing could be a company that focuses their advertising on the fact that they use biodegradable packaging. Or, a company like Flashfood, which centres its entire culture around saving the environment (and your wallet) by reducing food waste.
Green marketing vs Greenwashing
• One thing that some companies have been caught practicing is something called greenwashing. Essentially, this is where a company claims they adopt green practices, but they actually don’t do anything different. They promote an idea, but never really follow their own advice, and absolutely zero environmental benefits come from it.
• Around certain times of the year, companies will use a new logo. There’s nothing different about this logo other than it’s green where it was previously another colour.
Points to remember in green marketing:
• Passion It should come as no surprise that we have to be passionate about something in order to really sell it. Green marketing is no different. We have to be passionate about changing the world one step at a time. Every snowstorm starts as a snowflake, every hurricane is brought forth by a single lightning bolt, and every movement starts with a single action. Be passionate about it.
• Purpose Passion is the start, but purpose drives our efforts forward. In order to market our sustainability, it has to serve a purpose. We all know about the people and restaurants that banned plastic straws. This was a green marketing effort that had a purpose: to prevent them from going into the ocean and harming marine life. If we don’t yet know the green-focused purpose of what we’re selling, it’s time to re-evaluate.
• Precision We definitely need to be precise in green marketing. We can’t be jumping all over the place. Finding our niche, and run with the idea. Be deliberate with our marketing strategy. For a lot of people, this really does matter tremendously.
Save paper, go digital
• In this day and age, marketing is done almost primarily online. Even the good old-fashioned retail catalogues are digital now.
Follow the 5Rs
• Refuse: Refuse to waste. Look for any and every way that we can reduce the amount of generated waste around the office.
• Reduce: In the ways that we can’t refuse, look for ways that can reduce the waste. Maybe you can’t eliminate paper cups, but you can eliminate plastic lips. It’s all about finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
• Reuse: In many offices, we’ll probably find single-use plastics. These are designed to be used only once and then sent off to a landfill. Definitely not ideal for green marketing.
• Repurpose: Repurposing has actually become a huge green trend. People are taking wooden pallets and making furniture and plastic bottles and making flower vases.
• Recycle: Finally, after we’ve tried everything else, then it’s a good idea to recycle. Many countries make it a priority to recycle as much as they can, but businesses are often the biggest contributor to waste simply because they have so many employees.
Create green selling points
• They should be real, tangible points that can be proved and easily recognizable. For example, maybe our company sells an environmentally friendly product that is very energy efficient. Or perhaps, it’s made using very little energy and resources. These are big selling points and most definitely contribute to a successful green marketing campaign.
• Remember, you only want to use the ones that actually make sense for your brand. If you promote something green about your company that’s not actually true, people will find out. No greenwashing! Make it real and genuine, and people will appreciate you even more.
• Finally, after all of this is put into place, you have to lead by example. Use your green efforts by creating content around it, chipping in locally with environmental work, and showcase the steps that your business is taking to reduce waste.
• Doing all of this will hopefully encourage participation, giving others the initiative, they need to really make a difference themselves.
• Firstly, we could go with the conventional offline option, i.e. we go to a store, see a product and then buy it. • The place of purchase could be small and medium-sized stores, roadside vendors, exhibitions, etc.
• Basically, here the customer can touch and feel the product, negotiate the price and then buy it. S/He can come up to the store again in the future in case s/he faces any problem with the product.
• The biggest challenge here would be awareness: the consumer needs to be sold the knowledge and not the product. As soon as s/he will realise what harm is being caused to the environment when s/he is using the harmful products, s/he will start looking for alternatives. And for this to happen, proper marketing needs to be done The age of brick-and-mortar stores is coming to an end. Sure, they will always exist, but the internet has made way for more logical, purposeful, and effective marketing and selling.
1) Selecting the niche Choosing the right niche for your online sustainable products store can be complicated as there are many verticals out there such as pottery, handmade bags, etc. Look at the market you want to cater to decide your niche. Also, look ‘inside’ to see what you are most passionate about.
2) Conducting market research Conduct a market survey to see what people for your focus region feel about eco-friendly products. This is super important if you plan to cater to a small region. A detailed market survey will also help you in finalizing products for your online store. Track your competitors to understand which products are in high demand and what’s propelling their growth. This will generate bonus insights for your sustainable products business.
3) Build your store The next step is to build an online store for your eco-friendly and sustainability business. Choose the right store builder to get a mobile-ready website that’s easy to scale in the future. In case you will be selling products in regions with unique language preferences, then, you should opt for a store builder that promises multi-lingual support.
4) Market your line-up After building your online store, it’s time to show your products to potential customers. Use social media, Google advertising, content, SEO, and even offline advertising options to reach your target audience. Marketing your store will help people learn about your online store and generate initial visitors. A lot of business owners spend most of their money on store development and save little money for marketing, which is not advised.
“One thing is apparent, more than ever businesses are going green, and eco-friendly marketing is coming along for the ride.”
• For most brick-and-mortar businesses, it can be both costly and inefficient. At least, it’s not as cost-effective and sustainable as it could be. But the same can be said about shopping online
• For smaller stores, selling online reduces your carbon footprint in many ways. Shipping is more efficient than having hundreds or even thousands of people driving to your stores. Instead of having to open up another location every time you meet your growth goals, you can simply invest in advertising and meet the needs of your target audience through digital media.
• Encouraging small vendors in different cities to manufacture eco-friendly products; they can sell other products along with it. These small units will also provide income to these shop owners. It will enhance our supply chain & accessibility to eco-friendly products.
• But what about bigger stores? For an online retailer, the biggest impact will come from packaging, freight, and delivery. Optimizing these aspects and swapping to more eco-friendly packaging can lead to some surprising results.
• In fact, larger eCommerce retailers like Walmart and Amazon produce 17% less emissions than smaller, brick-and-mortar stores. This is thanks to increased efficiency on a global scale.
Finding the niche and sticking with it
• A brand that’s devoted to sustainable practices will base its products/services on a few solid selling principles that will genuinely resonate with the target audience.
• And it will carry them through every process from advertising and up until delivering and thanking the customer for the purchase.
• Evaluate what makes you different from your competitors and use that to market your offer. It can be that you operate on solar energy or that you use recyclable materials only.
• Whatever characterizes our product best, make it your company’s DNA and make sure to have proof of that.
• This way, we’ll be able to attract customers that share the same values and are more likely to stick around.
Switching to eco-conscious design
• If the product is green from the very beginning, there’s a good chance it won’t require any greenwashing in the future.
• Figure out what tangible materials or digital resources you have access to and use them when designing your products.
Setting price that reflects the green nature of the business
• To communicate the value of our offer so that your audience is ready to purchase without hesitation, we should share what went into setting the cost at a higher level than those of a competitor.
• No matter what justifies the pricing your company agrees on is reasonable, it must bring value to the customer and see that this purchase impacts his impact on the environment.
Replacing traditional marketing with digital marketing
• It’s not news that e-marketing is many steps ahead of offline marketing. It costs less, works faster, and lessens your environmental impact.
• Besides, it comes with a set of digital tools that make online advertising quick and easy.
Fostering sustainability-based work culture
• Significant changes start from within. Before shouting from the rooftops about how much your company cares about the environment, ensure the exterior – your actions – matches the work culture’s interior.
• Ensure that the suppliers the company is affiliated with use environmentally friendly packaging. The same applies to the type of vehicles the company uses and the way it disposes of waste.
• The internal processes have to be aligned with the company’s values for the staff to stay loyal and follow the lead.
• Along with encouraging personnel to bring their lunch, this will jumpstart the shift in their habits towards becoming more eco-friendly.
• Implementing sustainable practices at the office such as signing documents electronically or holding sustainability workshops via Zoom and urging to conserve energy by working near the window with natural light.
Providing social proof of our sustainability
• Once we optimize the internal processes, it’s time to let the rest of the world know what makes your brand sustainable (and the one to pick among the competitors).
• Do so carefully, and without resorting to greenwashing; this way, you’re more likely to acquire loyal customers that will stay with you through thick and thin.
Supporting local vendors and environmentally-focused organizations
• Don’t support the community of local vendors and organizations that focus on protecting the environment on the backburner.
• Even if it’s not directly helping you promote your brand, your input will result in greener surroundings and a better reputation, too.
• The other initiatives you can support are environmental NGOs and charitable organizations.
• Pick the organizations that align with the values and beliefs of your business and partner up with them for the better good of humanity.
To Wrap It Up
It is a win-win situation.