In 2023 it has never been more popular, or important, to make conscious efforts to lead a more sustainable life.
Green consumerism is booming, with more people than ever before looking for sustainable alternatives to everyday items.
Selling sustainable products online, therefore, is not just an eco-friendly and feel-good option, it’s a profitable one too.
With so many sustainable options on the market, figuring out which sustainable products to sell can feel overwhelming.
If you’re interested in creating a sustainable online store but are unsure what products to sell, keep reading to discover how you can help save the planet and build a booming ecommerce business, one sustainable sale at a time.
Sustainability has been a buzzword in 2022 and into 2023, but what does it actually mean? It’s all well and good wanting to sell sustainable products online, but what makes an item sustainable?
Put simply, a sustainable product is one that doesn’t directly harm the environment during creation, consumption, and disposal.
Sustainable items are usually made using recycled and/or biodegradable materials, with low-energy manufacturing processes using chemical-free ingredients, and can be recycled once the user is finished with them.
There are various reasons why sustainable products make sound business sense for your online store today including:
Increased customer demand – the popularity of sustainable items continues to grow. More and more people are looking for more sustainable and “greener” options for their everyday items.
Higher profits – generally speaking, sustainable items are often cheaper to produce yet can be priced at a higher price point than standard, non-sustainable alternatives. Customers are often more willing to pay a higher price for an item they know is having a positive impact on the environment.
Ethically sound – selling sustainable products gives you the peace of mind that your business is ethically sound and doing the right thing. With so much importance put on saving the planet, customers are no longer willing to spend their money with businesses that aren’t doing their bit.
Sourcing sustainable products to sell online isn’t necessarily simple.
With so much interest in sustainability, many manufacturers and suppliers have jumped aboard and claim to offer sustainable products…but it’s important that you ask yourself, just how sustainable are they really?
When finding the products that you want to sell online, it’s crucial that you do your due diligence and research to ensure you aren’t claiming a product is sustainable when it’s not.
A key way to determine if a product is sustainable is to remember the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.
Reduce: Products that help you to actively reduce your environmental impact such as solar-powered items that reduce your reliance on electricity.
Reuse: Products that can be reused over and over again such as reusable coffee cups, tote bags, and glass straws.
Recycled: Products that are made using recycled materials and that can themselves be recycled again once the user is finished with them.
It’s not just the product themselves that you need to take note of either. Check how a product was manufactured too – was it made using eco-friendly methods? Is the product cruelty-free?
You’ll also need to consider the sustainable packaging of the item. After all, it’s a little counter-productive to sell a sustainable product made from recycled materials that arrives packaged in heaps of non-recyclable plastic.
When choosing your sustainable products to sell, be sure to take a look at trending products and what is currently proving popular with online shoppers. Finding a sustainable alternative to these can be a great way to target an eco-conscious audience.
Get more ideas for sustainable businesses here.
So, what are some of the best eco-friendly and sustainable products to sell online?
From stainless steel to copper, there are various different sustainable water bottle options that you can sell online.
Everyone needs a water bottle, whether it’s a hard-core gym bunny who needs to stay hydrated while working out, or a kindergarten pupil who wants a bottle to match their favorite characters, the audience for water bottles is huge.
So too are the personalization and design options. You can choose from an array of colors, patterns, and themes, depending on your target audience.
Water bottles are one of the most common sustainable products on the market thanks to the fact that they help to reduce the number of plastic bottles we use every single day.
Traditional plastic straws aren’t recyclable and can be incredibly dangerous to our oceans and sea life.
While paper straws have become more common, let’s be honest, nobody enjoys the soggy pulp they turn into after a few sips.
The alternative? Reusable straws.
Stainless steel straws are a great sustainable product option because not only do they drastically reduce plastic waste, they also help to keep cold drinks cool as you take a sip.
Straws made from glass or stainless steel can be used again and again and again.
It’s a good idea to sell reusable straws in packs and always include a small cleaning brush so that customers can keep their reusable straws clean and free from bacteria.
We all use food wrapping every day in the kitchen. Whether it’s to package up sandwiches in a packed lunch or to keep leftovers fresher for longer. But have you ever thought about the environmental impact of all that plastic?
Sustainable food wraps do exactly the same job as plastic wrapping, helping to keep food fresh, but don’t come with the same negatives for the planet.
Beeswax wrap is a great example of a sustainable alternative for an item people use every day in their kitchens. The product is made using recycled materials and can be reused again and again.
You can encourage people to buy sustainable food wraps by highlighting how they are the planet-friendly alternative to a product they already have in their homes.
Showcasing how your sustainable products will help customers make better choices is important if you want your ecommerce store to be a success.
The fashion industry has long been one of the planet’s biggest polluters and an increased pushback on fast fashion retailers makes selling second-hand clothes the perfect sustainable business idea.
Anyone looking to start a fashion business in 2023 needs to put sustainability at the top of their priority list and a great way to do this is by selling second-hand clothes, or starting an online thrift store.
Thanks to social media influencers pushing the “pre-loved” agenda, it’s never been a better time to set up an ecommerce store selling clothes that are looking for a second (or even third or fourth) home.
If you’re interested in selling clothing online it’s not only second-hand clothes that you opt for.
Sustainable clothing is becoming increasingly popular too.
Sustainable clothing options include clothing that’s locally produced, items made from organic materials, or garments that feature vegan alternatives to materials such as leather.
Sustainable clothing should be built to last and you can usually set a higher price point for sustainable apparel with the promise that the item will last in your customer’s wardrobe forever.
More great sustainable products to sell online are recycled plastic products.
We all know the perils that plastic causes the planet but now many manufacturers have found a way to recycle plastic products into new items.
Popular recycled plastic products include children’s toys, shampoo bottles, outdoor furniture, and even clothing and shoes.
Nowadays you can find an alternative to almost everything that’s made out of recycled plastic. These products have some serious sustainability points and are the perfect choice if you’re serious about targeting eco-friendly shoppers.
Make sure you shout about the manufacturing process and recycled materials in your marketing and through your product descriptions, this is your key selling point after all!
As sustainable energy becomes more and more understood and used, we’re starting to see an increase in the amount of solar-powered electrical products on the market.
Nowadays there are tons of gadgets that can be powered by solar energy including Bluetooth speakers, smart bike locks, flashlights, and portable chargers.
Selling solar-powered electrical products online is a great choice for retailers who want to target an eco-conscious and tech-savvy market.
The key to success when selling these products is to ensure you accurately detail how they work to your audience. Make sure you manage expectations as to how much sun exposure the items will need in order for them to work to their full potential.
Solar energy is still a new phenomenon to many and sometimes a little bit of hand-holding can go a long way.
The online beauty industry is booming and with so much noise, it can be hard to find a gap in the market. That’s where eco-friendly cosmetics come in.
With an increased interest in not just protecting the planet but also in what we put in and on our bodies, the concept of clean beauty is growing.
Eco-friendly cosmetics are traditionally products that are made from organic ingredients and ones that don’t contain nasty chemicals and sulfates.
We recommend focusing on a key demographic and product line when selling eco-friendly cosmetics online such as makeup, haircare, or products aimed at specific skin types.
If you decide to sell eco-friendly cosmetics online you’ll also need to think carefully about your packaging.
Traditionally many cosmetics come in non-recyclable plastic containers but that simply won’t do here. Instead, you’ll need to look into sourcing packaging made from recycled materials or even better, refillable packaging options.
We spoke with The Wrinkly Elephant, a natural soap company, to learn about their experience selling sustainable products online.
Another great sustainable product to sell online is natural cleaning products.
Many traditional cleaning products contain chemicals that can be harmful to the environment, not to mention they often come in plastic bottles that can’t be recycled.
Natural cleaning products, however, just like sustainable cosmetics, are made using organic and chemical-free ingredients.
When selling natural cleaning products online, you must list your ingredients to help build trust with your customers. The last thing you want is to market your products as natural, only for your customers to discover the ingredients list is far from environmentally friendly.
Advice from the Experts
Top tip: Why not go one step further and sell biodegradable sponges and water-free detergent on your online store too? Offering a full product range allows you to create bundles and deals to encourage return customers.
The humble tote bag is fast becoming a popular sight at every main street, shopping center, and grocery store.
A great way to reduce plastic waste is by reducing the need for plastic bags, making reusable tote bags a great sustainable product to sell online.
You can source tote bags straight from manufacturers or you can design them yourself and use a print-on-demand service to design and create your own.
Reusable tote bags also double up as a free advertisement for your brand. If you add your company logo or brand name then every time a customer takes your tote bag to the store, your brand is getting in front of hundreds of new eyes and potential customers.
This list of sustainable products will have hopefully inspired you to start selling eco-friendly products online.
Now that you understand what products you can sell and how to sell sustainable products, all that’s left for you to do is source your products and set up your online store.
What was once an incredibly niche market is now a growing ecommerce industry and there’s never been a better time to get in on the action.
As always, don’t forget to let us know in the comments if you’ve tried selling any of the sustainable products mentioned and which one(s) proved the most popular with your audience.
The demand for sustainable products continues to grow and as we continue to see a shift in consumers’ attitudes towards protecting the environment, this will only continue. Shoppers are actively seeking out sustainable alternatives to products when they browse online so now is the time to find a gap in the market and start selling.
You can sell sustainable products online in an array of different places including via your own online store, via third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and Etsy, or even on social media.
In today’s eco-conscious world it’s important to try and make sure your overall ecommerce business is as sustainable as possible. Some steps you can take to achieve this goal include sourcing your products and materials from local suppliers and using recycled packaging.