May 23, 2024

Christmas is around the corner, and this year’s festivities look set to be more digital than traditional. With new lockdowns being implemented in the UK and beyond, the likelihood of people turning to online retailers for presents remains high.

Traditional bricks-and-mortar shops accounted for £60.9 billion worth of sales in 2019, compared to £22.3 billion from online stores. But in 2020 that picture looks different, as figures show the pandemic—and Christmas—will see digital shopping overtake the high street.

From an environmental point of view, though, this means more parcels and more deliveries to help cope with high demand. Today, we look at how retailers can be more sustainable over Christmas and beyond.

Pick the right packaging

The importance of how you package your products has grown over recent years. Social media and the ‘unboxing’ craze have left people wanting an experience personal to them.

This can be achieved through eye-catching packaging, but at what cost to the environment? Around 12.7 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in oceans every year, harming sea life and damaging habitats.

The issues surrounding single-use plastic have led to the re-introduction of a bill that pledges to push for the ban of single-use items. And this is where retailers can come in.

Switching from plastic to paper is a smart way to become more sustainable without sacrificing the look and quality of packaging. The advantages of using paper are plentiful—it’s recyclable, renewable, and biodegradable.

You can even replace protective materials like bubble wrap with a paper alternative and ditch plastic tape for a self-adhesive paper version. The market for paper packaging is growing and it’s something retailers can take advantage of without diminishing appearance and safety.

Choose the right courier

Transport is the most polluting sector in the UK, with parcel deliveries contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. But with action being taken on the sale of petrol and diesel cars, courier services are also trying to reduce their pollution figures by turning to emission-free methods.

Before you decide which courier provides you with the most affordable or reliable service, it’s good to see which companies have already introduced green schemes. Ones you can benefit from now and in the future.

This can come in the form of local services who use pushbikes to deliver goods. On a national scale, look at providers who’ve turned their focus to electric vehicles and even battery-operated bikes—like the Royal Mail’s e-Trikes.

It doesn’t stop at which type of vehicle is used. To help limit travel time, couriers can use a returnable transit packaging product like a reusable plastic pallet. This increases vehicle fill by up to 40 per cent, making your business more efficient with deliveries and better for the environment.

Give something back

Another way to help the environment is by offsetting your carbon emissions. One way to do this is by planting trees. Introducing an initiative where you plant one tree for every ‘x’ number of items sold not only helps you become more sustainable, but it shows customers that you care for the planet by offsetting the emissions you’ve produced.

There are charities across the country that plant trees in towns and cities. Teaming up with one via an official partnership is a fantastic way to support your local and national causes and help build brand loyalty for your business.

You can even help your customers offset their impact too. This can be done by stating your packaging is recyclable and asking them to recycle it, or by introducing reusability into the products you sell, for example reusable cups and tote bags.

That’s our list of ways retailers can be more sustainable over Christmas and beyond. The immediate future of the industry may well live online, but an increase in deliveries doesn’t mean that becoming sustainable is an impossible task to achieve.