21 April 2022 | 6-minute read

Why You Should Keep Sustainability In Mind When Weaving Your Brand Story

Etsy buyers have told us they care about the planet. Learn to communicate your eco-friendly business practices to connect with potential customers.

Avatar image for Etsy Staff by Etsy Staff
Title image for the article

We know that Etsy shoppers have considered the environment in their actions and in the products they buy and engage with every day. In a 2019 survey of 1,100 US buyers, we found that Etsy customers tend to be an eco-conscious group— 98% of over 1,000 buyers we surveyed said they engaged in practices like shopping locally, recycling, avoiding plastic, and reusing shopping bags. In another instance, 46% of 2,500 buyers surveyed in 2020 said they come to Etsy because we’re helping them shop in a more sustainable way.

And it’s not just buyers. In the 2021 Etsy Seller Census, 57% of the 6,400 global sellers we surveyed believe that it’s extremely or very important to run an environmentally responsible business. But not all shop owners share that story. If you're making earth-friendly choices in your business, don’t shy away from telling potential customers about it. By keeping sustainability as a factor into creating your brand story, you can demonstrate your values while appealing to eco-conscious shoppers. How can you do it in a way that’s both accessible, accurate and authentic? Here are three tips to get you started.

This article is an educational guide to help sellers who are running their shop in an eco-friendly way to market this in their shop and listings. Sellers are ultimately responsible for making accurate statements in their shop and listings in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and Etsy policies applicable to products and listings. Requirements may vary depending on your location and where you make your products available. The authors, Etsy, Inc. and Etsy Ireland UC disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of or reliance on these materials.

What’s inside matters

In our 2019 survey, 60% of existing Etsy shoppers and 68% of people who are thinking about shopping on Etsy said they were extremely or very interested in reading more detailed information on listing pages about the materials sellers use to make an item. So if you choose eco-friendly materials or ingredients, shout about it! (And if you don’t, consider how starting now could help you reach potential buyers.)

Try describing your overall approach to materials in your shop’s about section, using easy-to-understand and accurate descriptions reused, recyclable, and local as they appropriately apply to listings. Then, explore the details on individual listing pages if they apply and are accurate to help cater to more curious customers. If you sell vintage goods, you might emphasize how repurposing antiques and thrifted items may help reduce negative impact on the environment.

When Milly Gale of Bath, UK-based nightwear shop Noctu ventured to India on a family trip, she learned about the destructiveness of the cotton industry.* In her about section, shoppers can read about how this eye-opening experience sparked her idea for a business that could support organic cotton farmers. She also adds eco-friendly keywords to her titles and tags, like “organic nightwear” and “organic cotton women's camisole,” to draw in environmentally conscious buyers. Social media is another great space to celebrate your products’ eco-friendly qualities, including in your captions and using relevant hashtags.

Noctu
In her listing pages, Milly Gale of Noctu provides additional information about her materials' origins and their GOTS and Fair Trade certifications.

Show them how it’s done

It’s not just about what your products are made of, but how you make them. In our 2019 survey, about 45% of buyers reported that it’s extremely or very important to them that items are created with a commitment to environmentally responsible production practices and operations.

Use your about section to spread the word about your process and supply chain, whether that’s using an artisanal technique, opting for chemical-free finishes, or finding creative uses for scraps. Shop updates are another easy way to help customers follow along with your journey.

Let your packaging do the talking

How you package and ship your products can speak volumes about your values. In fact, 58% of our buyers said they were concerned with how much packaging is used in shipping their products when asked in our 2019 survey.

Do a quick assessment of your typical package: Could you replace any of the materials with a more recyclable alternative? Can customers easily reuse or recycle packaging materials? Think about communicating this by including recycling instructions with each order. You’ll not only help them dispose of packaging properly, but also create an opportunity to connect with shoppers whose values are aligned with yours.

Paper-based materials like cardboard boxes, padded paper envelopes (rather than plastic bubble mailers), and Kraft packing paper are easy for most buyers to recycle at home and can commonly be purchased with 100% recycled content. In our 2019 survey, 54% of buyers said they tried to avoid plastic, so this is a great way to give buyers a positive unboxing experience.

Begin your sustainability journey

If you don’t already use environmentally conscious materials, processes, or packaging, there’s no time like Earth Month to get started. Etsy has partnered with EcoEnclose to bring US sellers packaging made from 100% recycled materials or certified responsibly sourced paper**. This earth-conscious packaging lets buyers know you run a more sustainable business, and comes at competitive prices, in sizes most commonly used by Etsy sellers. Because doing right by the planet shouldn’t cost you more.

Shop from EcoEnclose

* Descriptions of the environmental attributes of any items on Etsy are based solely on seller’s listing information.
** Responsibly sourced materials vary by product and are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)

This article is an educational guide to help sellers who are running their shop in an eco-friendly way to market this in their shop and listings. Sellers are ultimately responsible for making accurate statements in their shop and listings in compliance with applicable laws and regulations and Etsy policies applicable to products and listings. Requirements may vary depending on your location and where you make your products available. The authors, Etsy, Inc. and Etsy Ireland UC disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of or reliance on these materials.

Avatar image for Etsy Staff Words by Etsy Staff

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